Saturday, February 22, 2020

The 'Racist' National Anthem (VIDEO)

It's James Robbins, for Prager University:

Alex Biston's Saturday Forecast

It's going to be a beautiful day! Here's the lovely Alex, at CBS New 2 Los Angeles.

Blacks Flee Chicago

At NYT, "Black Families Came to Chicago by the Thousands. Why Are They Leaving?":

HILLSIDE, Ill. — Hardis White, 78, could hardly wait to break out of suburbia.

He dressed in a flannel shirt, jeans and a Bears cap, strode out of the rectangular bungalow he shares with his wife and daughter and folded his tall frame behind the wheel of his silver Nissan sedan.

Forty minutes away from his suburban neighborhood of Hillside, he arrived in Chicago, on Laporte Avenue, to see what he had come to see: a handsome brick house with white trim, two stories tall, as solid as the first day he saw it in 1967.

For a moment, he gazed at the house. Marvin Gaye played softly on the radio. The grass seemed a little long, he murmured. He put the car back in gear and started back to the suburbs.

“I don’t know why I keep coming back,” he said. “I guess I just miss the neighborhood.”

Some people, lured by nostalgia and curiosity, drive past their old houses now and then. Mr. White does it nearly every day.

Today, he is one of the more than 200,000 African-Americans who have moved out of Chicago in the last two decades, though in some ways, he never left. For more than a year, he has taken this daily pilgrimage back to the house on Laporte, to the city where his children grew up and where two of his daughters still live.

The steady exodus of African-Americans has caused alarm and grief in Chicago, the nation’s third largest city, where black people have shaped the history, culture and political life. The population of 2.7 million is still nearly split in thirds among whites, blacks and Latinos, but the balance is shifting. Chicago saw its population decline in 2018, the fourth year in a row. Since 2015, almost 50,000 black residents have left.

They have been driven out of the city by segregation, gun violence, discriminatory policing, racial disparities in employment, the uneven quality of public schools and frustration at life in neighborhoods whose once-humming commercial districts have gone quiet, as well as more universal urban complaints like rising rents and taxes. At the same time, white, Latino and Asian residents are flowing in, and Chicago’s wealthier, whiter downtown, West Loop and North Side have been booming. Lori Lightfoot, the city’s first black mayor in decades, has vowed to stem the loss of longtime residents, and the city has collectively grasped for solutions.

The White family is a living symbol of what Chicago has kept and lost.

Members of three generations of the White family have grappled with the choice of whether to stay in Chicago or leave. Each family member’s story offers a glimpse into the city’s shifting migration pattern. Each story reveals what has made Chicagoans decide to leave the city or made them more determined to remain.

Mr. White, who arrived in Chicago from Mississippi when he was a teenager, moved to the suburbs because of the growing needs of his wife, Velma, who has dementia. Like many Chicagoans of his generation, he left the city only reluctantly.

The couple moved in with Dora, their oldest daughter, who traded Chicago for Hillside for a very different reason: She was fed up with drug sales and violence in the family’s neighborhood on the West Side.

But the couple’s other adult daughters, Nesan and Tshena, still live in the family home on Laporte, confident that their neighborhood is showing signs of a turnaround.

And in the next generation, Ke’Oisha, the Whites’ oldest grandchild, left Chicago for job opportunities elsewhere, following a path out of the city that many other black college graduates have taken. She headed south, finding a career in Houston, a growing metropolis teeming with young transplants and opportunity.

In one sense, the Whites are an archetypal Chicago family, said Rob Paral, a demographer who studies the city’s population.

Many black Chicagoans have taken only small steps away from the city, resettling in nearby suburbs in Illinois or Indiana that offer more highly rated schools and a lower cost of living. Others have followed the path of a reverse migration, making homes in places like Atlanta, many decades after black families came to Chicago and other Northern cities in large numbers in search of opportunity.

“It’s an American tragedy,” said the Rev. Marshall Hatch, a pastor on the West Side whose congregants have been disappearing for years, heading to cities throughout the Midwest and the South. “Look at the legacy that the African-American community had in national politics, in culture, with blues and gospel and jazz, and sports, from Michael Jordan to Ernie Banks. African-American Chicago is being destroyed.”

The Chicago story of the White family begins in 1956, with 13-year-old Hardis riding a train north with his uncle. They started their journey in Tupelo, Miss. Their destination was Chicago’s Union Station. They were part of the Great Migration, when millions of African-Americans moved north, seeking a better life.

Life in Mississippi had often been grueling. Young Hardis was required to pick cotton, usually bringing in 150 pounds a day. Chicago was an instant wonder, with its skyscrapers and buzzing street life. He and his uncle, who came to Chicago to join family members who had already settled there, arrived days before the city hosted the 1956 Democratic convention.

“I loved it right away,” he said.

When he was 23, he married Velma, a fellow transplant from the South. In 1967, they bought the house on Laporte — a two-flat, in Chicago parlance, on the city’s West Side — for $23,500. They were among the first African-American couples on the block.

But the next year, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and riots tore through Chicago. “That’s when most of the businesses started moving out,” Mr. White said. “Car dealerships, supermarkets. When the business goes out of the neighborhood, that’s the neighborhood.”

White families were fleeing, urged on by unscrupulous real estate agents.

“Things were changing fast,” Mr. White said. “They had rumors going around, telling the whites that blacks were moving in, so they’d better sell their property.”

Some white neighbors vowed to stay, then left anyway. “One guy, three doors down, told me he wouldn’t sell his place just because blacks were moving in,” Mr. White said. “And that’s the last time I saw him.”

The house on Laporte was the center of the White family’s world. Dora, Nesan and Tshena attended school around the corner. Mr. White worked overnights as a meatpacker in an Oscar Mayer plant, stirring vats of sausage in bone-chilling temperatures on the factory floor, and Velma was a nurse at Cook County’s public hospital. More family members — Mr. White’s mother and his sister and brother-in-law and their children — lived in the upper flat...
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

It's Lindsey Pelas,

See, "Lindsey Pelas":

Morgan Stanley to Buy E-Trade for $13 Billion

From Seth Mandel, at Foreign Affairs, "Blue Chip Morgan Stanley to Buy Discount Broker E-Trade":

Morgan Stanley announced on Thursday that it would buy E-Trade, the online discount brokerage, for about $13 billion, in the biggest takeover by a major American lender since the 2008 global financial crisis.

The deal would give Morgan Stanley — long one of Wall Street’s blue-chip names, whose asset management business caters to the wealthy — a big share of the market for online trading, an additional 5.2 million customer accounts and $360 billion in assets.

The deal highlights the increasing convergence of Wall Street and Main Street: Elite bastions of corporate finance are increasingly seeking to cater to customers with smaller pocketbooks, and online brokerages that once hoped to overthrow traditional trading houses are instead suffering from a price war that has slashed their profits.

It also reflects Morgan Stanley’s strategy of focusing on asset management rather than investment banking and high-stakes trading, betting on steady fees over bigger paydays and bigger risks.

Under James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive for a decade, the firm has increasingly de-emphasized jet-setting mergers bankers and aggressive bond trading, preferring the predictable and less costly business of wealth management.

Before Thursday, Mr. Gorman’s most transformative deal at Morgan Stanley was its acquisition of Smith Barney’s retail brokerage in 2012...

The Limits of Democracy Promotion

From Stephen Krasner, at Foreign Affairs, "Learning to Live With Despots":

Throughout its history, the United States has oscillated between two foreign policies. One aims to remake other countries in the American image. The other regards the rest of the world as essentially beyond repair. According to the second vision, Washington should demonstrate the benefits of consolidated democracy—free and fair elections, a free press, the rule of law, the separation of powers, and an active civil society—but not seek to impose those things on other countries. The George W. Bush administration took the first approach. The Obama administration took the second, as has the Trump administration, choosing to avoid actively trying to promote freedom and democracy in other countries.

Both strategies are, however, deeply flawed. The conceit that the United States can turn all countries into consolidated democracies has been disproved over and over again, from Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq. The view that Washington should offer a shining example but nothing more fails to appreciate the dangers of the contemporary world, in which groups and individuals with few resources can kill thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Americans. The United States cannot fix the world’s problems, but nor does it have the luxury of ignoring them.

Washington should take a third course, adopting a foreign policy that keeps the country safe by working with the rulers the world has, not the ones the United States wishes it had. That means adopting policies abroad that can improve other states’ security, boost their economic growth, and strengthen their ability to deliver some services while nevertheless accommodating a despotic ruler. For the purposes of U.S. security, it matters more that leaders in the rest of the world govern well than it does that they govern democratically. And in any case, helping ensure that others govern well—or at least well enough—may be the best that U.S. foreign policy can hope to achieve in most countries.


Homo sapiens has been around for about 8,000 generations, and for most of that time, life has been rather unpleasant. Life expectancy began to increase around 1850, just seven generations ago, and accelerated only after 1900. Prior to that point, the average person lived for around 30 years (although high infant mortality explained much of this figure); today, life expectancy is in the high 70s or above for wealthy countries and approaching 70 or more for many poor ones. In the past, women—rich and poor alike—frequently died in childbirth. Pandemic diseases, such as the Black Death, which wiped out more than one-third of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century, were common. In the Western Hemisphere, European colonists brought diseases that devastated indigenous populations. Until the nineteenth century, no country had the rule of law; at best, countries had rule by law, in which formal laws applied only to some. For most people, regardless of their social rank, violence was endemic. Only in the last century or two has per capita income grown significantly. Most humans who have ever lived have done so under despotic regimes.

Most still do. Consolidated democracy, in which the arbitrary power of the state is constrained and almost all residents have access to the rule of law, is a recent and unique development. The experience of people living in wealthy industrialized democracies since the end of World War II, with lives relatively free of violence, is the exception. Wealthy democratic states have existed for only a short period of history, perhaps 150 years, and in only a few places in the world—western Europe, North America, Australasia, and parts of Asia. Even today, only about 30 countries are wealthy, consolidated democracies. Perhaps another 20 might someday make the leap, but most will remain in some form of despotism.

The United States cannot change that, despite the hopes of policymakers who served in the Bush administration and scholars such as the political scientist Larry Diamond. Last year, Diamond, reflecting on his decades of studying democratization all over the world, wrote that “even people who resented America for its wealth, its global power, its arrogance, and its use of military force nevertheless expressed a grudging admiration for the vitality of its democracy.” Those people hoped, he wrote, that “the United States would support their cause.” The trouble is that, regardless of such hopes, despotic leaders do not want to provide benefits to those they govern; they want to support with arms or money those who can keep them in power. They will not accept policies that aim to end their rule. What’s more, organizing against a despot is dangerous and unusual. Revolutions are rare. Despots usually stay in power.

Yet although the United States cannot build wealthy democracies abroad, it cannot ignore the problems of the rest of the world, either, contrary to what Americans have been told by people such as U.S. President Donald Trump, who in his first speech after he was elected said, “There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag. From now on, it’s going to be America first, OK? America first. We’re going to put ourselves first.”

The trouble with wanting to withdraw and focus on home is that, like it or not, globalization has indeed shrunk the world, and technology has severed the relationship between material resources and the ability to do harm. A few individuals in badly governed and impoverished states control enough nuclear and biological weapons to kill millions of Americans. And nuclear weapons are spreading. Pakistan has sold nuclear technology to North Korea; the North Koreans might one day sell it to somebody else. Nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of jihadi groups. Pandemic diseases can arise naturally in badly governed states and could spread to the developed world, killing millions. The technology needed to create artificial pathogens is becoming more widely available. For these reasons, the United States has to play a role in the outside world, whether it wants to or not, in order to lower the chances of the worst possible outcomes. Revolutions are rare. Despots usually stay in power.

And because despots are here for the foreseeable future, Washington will always have to deal with them. That will mean promoting not good government but good enough governance. Good government is based on a Western ideal in which the government delivers a wide variety of services to the population based on the rule of law, with laws determined by representatives selected through free and fair elections. Good government is relatively free of corruption and provides reliable security for all citizens. But pushing for elections often results only in bloodshed, with no clear improvement in governance. Trying to eliminate corruption entirely may preclude eliminating the worst forms of corruption. And greater security may mean more violations of individual rights. Good government is not in the interests of the elites in most countries the United States wants to change, where rulers will reject or undermine reforms that could weaken their hold on power.

A foreign policy with more limited aims, by contrast, might actually achieve more. Greater security, some economic growth, and the better provision of some services is the best the United States can hope for in most countries. Achieving good enough governance is feasible, would protect U.S. interests, and would not preclude progress toward greater democracy down the road.

Policies aiming for good enough governance have already succeeded. The best example comes from Colombia, where for the past two decades, the United States has sought to curb violence and drug trafficking by providing financial aid, security training, military technology, and intelligence under what was known until 2016 as Plan Colombia (now Peace Colombia). The results have been remarkable. Between 2002 and 2008, homicides in Colombia dropped by 45 percent. Between 2002 and 2012, kidnappings dropped by 90 percent. Since the turn of the century, Colombia has improved its scores on a number of governance measures, including control of corruption, the rule of law, government effectiveness, and government accountability. That progress culminated in 2016 with a peace deal between the government and the guerilla movement the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)...