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How Trump could lose the popular vote again – and hold the White House
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 01:00:05 -0400

How Trump could lose the popular vote again – and hold the White HouseHillary Clinton won a majority but lost the presidency in the electoral college. A close election could bring a repeatDonald Trump waves to supporters as he arrives for a campaign rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesSome defeats never lose their sting. In Washington this week, Hillary Clinton summed up her bid for the White House in 2016.“You can run the best campaign. You can have the best plans. You can get the nomination. You can win the popular vote. And you can lose the electoral college and therefore the election.”Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots yet lost the electoral college – the body of people who represent states and actually get to choose the president – by 304 votes to 227. A black swan event never to be repeated? No. In 2020, it could easily happen again.A study from the University of Texas at Austin found that the electoral college is much more likely than previously thought to elect the candidate who loses the popular vote. In close elections, researchers argues, such “inversions” are normal, not exceptional.In a race decided by less than 2% (2.6m votes), the study found, the probability of an inversion is 32%. In a race decided by less than 1% (1.3m votes), the probability is 45%.“It’s almost a coin flip,” said Michael Geruso, an assistant economics professor.Some critics of Trump have never quite accepted him as the legitimate president, pointing out that he does not represent the will of the majority. After his uniquely divisive first term, a repeat could trigger a furious backlash.> The Republicans do a really determined job of winning power with fewer voters> > Senator Sheldon WhitehouseIn 48 presidential elections since 1824 there have been four inversions: in 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016. All four favoured Republicans, although the researchers argue there have been periods when it was more likely a Democrat would win by inversion.“We wanted to understand, were these statistically likely events or were they flukes?” Geruso said. “And in some sense it was just shocking to us that no one had asked and answered that question yet.”Geruso and his colleagues found that all the most common election models used by political scientists led to a very similar result for the probability of inversion.“There’s lots of questions where different models would give different answers but, on the question of how likely is an electoral inversion in a close race, we don’t need to agree or decide on what the perfect model of elections is. They all give the same answer.”Clinton ran up huge margins in states such as California, Illinois and New York. Agonisingly, her loss of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes cost her the electoral college.Some analysts doubt Trump could get so lucky again. But Geruso said he has a decent chance of catching lightning in a bottle once more.“It’s really easy to look at the 2016 election and for people to feel like that was an extraordinary election, an extraordinary political moment, it was unusual in a lot of ways. And that may all be true but it turns out that’s not why the 2016 election ended in a mismatch between the electoral college and national popular vote. It ended in an inversion because that election was close and close elections, we show, just have a relatively high probability of ending in an inversion.”It is less about Trump’s appeal to certain constituencies than simple geography and maths.“Don’t be tempted into thinking that the reason that 2020 might be an inversion is because Donald Trump is running in that race. Inversions are going to keep happening in close races for as long as we have the electoral college because they have been happening.”According to Geruso, two major reasons are often cited for inversions. When Clinton won New York and California she did so by big margins, but when she lost states such as Florida or Ohio she did so narrowly. Thus there was an imbalance in the aggregate vote tallies.Secondly, since a state’s number of electoral college votes is determined by how many senators and representatives it has, and every state has two senators, small states have greater representation in the college relative to population size. Each senator in California represents nearly 20 million people. Each senator in Wyoming represents 290,000. The current alignment favours Republicans, although there are exceptions such as the District of Columbia.The researchers found a 77% probability that, if an inversion occurs, it will be a Democratic popular vote majority and a Republican electoral college win. ‘Second-grade soccer’Several Democratic candidates for president, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have called for the college to be abolished. The party, however, is wrestling with how to exploit it as ruthlessly as Republicans do.Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher, said: “The Republicans do a really determined job of winning power with fewer voters and we don’t take on that infrastructure and we don’t take on that strategy. We’re too happy fighting the fight of the minute. It’s second-grade soccer, chasing the ball, and they are planning ahead.”> The electoral college actually undermines democracy> > LaTosha BrownSome observers fear the electoral college encourages voter suppression. Republican efforts to use voter ID laws to limit registration in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will be closely scrutinised.Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and strategist and author of new book RIP GOP, said: “If there is a close national election, Republicans will resort to things they have done demonstrably well over the last decade of trying to suppress the vote.“There’s no doubt that the Wisconsin case in 2016 was produced not by low turnout among African Americans but pushing them off the voter rolls with new voter ID laws, and so there was a sharp drop in eligible voters and people were prevented legally from voting. So obviously the most important thing is to make sure we did not have a close election.”While southern states such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia have the highest proportions of African Americans in the country, those who vote for the Democrat are effectively ignored by the electoral college.Hillary Clinton delivers her concession speech, in the New Yorker hotel. Photograph: REX/ShutterstockLaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said: “They never have any influence on picking the president because of winner takes all. It gives the impression everyone in the south is conservative.“In these states it’s based on a systemic history of racism. What I’m seeing is people of colour don’t fundamentally believe they’re living in a democracy. Why don’t you have proportional representation? What possible justification is there for winner takes all? The electoral college actually undermines democracy.”Few expect Trump to win the popular vote. But in a chilling warning for Democrats, the New York Times suggested he could win the electoral college again, because mostly white working class rust belt states remain at the centre of the electoral map.“A strategy rooted in racial polarization could at once energize parts of the president’s base and rebuild support among wavering white working-class voters,” Nate Cohn wrote. “Many of these voters backed Mr Trump in the first place in part because of his views on hot-button issues, including on immigration and race.”Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution think tank at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, noted that George W Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but won it in 2004 after improving in Texas and post-9/11 New York.For Trump, he said, “it’s a tight squeeze. There’s not much margin for error. But he could do it again, like he did in 2016, without the popular vote.“So expect Trump derangement syndrome to get even worse.”

The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own company
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:17:43 -0400

The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own companyBGR has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. BGR and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.One of our favorite rewards credit cards for ordinary consumers is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which combines a big up-front welcome offer of 60,000 points (after using the card to spend $5,000 in your first three months) with a ton of luxe perks. The benefits range from an airline fee credit of up to $200 to American Express Concierge travel service, and much more. Business owners, meanwhile, fear not. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express is a companion version of the charge card tailored to the needs of business people, and it not only has a similarly impressive lineup of benefits.You've also got until December 4, 2019, to take advantage of a limited-time, increased welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points.Who needs this card: If you rack up frequent travel expenses over the course of your business operations, or even if you simply charge thousands of dollars a month in business expenses to a charge card, it's hard to argue the Amex Business Platinum doesn't deserve a spot in your wallet.Why you should sign up for one right now: The current welcome points offer means if you can put $25,000 in charges on this card in your first three months of card ownership (and before December 4), the 100,000 Membership Rewards points bonus can be yours. Yes, that's a big outlay in order to get the welcome reward, but since this is a business card we're talking about that's not an unreasonable amount of expense to put on a charge card.Moreover, based on the most recent monthly valuations from The Points Guy, 100,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $2,000 in travel, which makes this card's bonus an extremely lucrative one and potentially worth the high spending levels. We should also add -- you'll earn the welcome points in two tiers.Spent $10,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership, and you'll earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points. Once you put another $15,000 on this card (for qualifying purchases) after that initial $10,000 -- and, again, still before the first three months are up -- then you'll earn an additional 50,000 points.If you read our previous post outlining the slew of lucrative benefits available to Amex Platinum cardmembers, you're already familiar with many of the benefits of the Amex Business Platinum. Both cards share perks like: * Up to $200 airline fee credit each year * Access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) * Access to other lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection * Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy * Upgrade with Points to request an airline ticket upgrade on select airlines * 5 points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels (both must be booked through Amex Travel on the Business Platinum)However, here are some of the benefits you get that are exclusive to the business version of the Platinum card: * 10 free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes each year * 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year) * A complimentary year of Platinum Global Access with WeWork (enrollment must be done by December 31, 2019) * Up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell technology purchases, split into a $100 credit for January through June and another $100 credit for July through December The final wordWhile this card does come with a $595 annual fee that can seem hefty at the outset, if you take advantage of the $200 airline fee credit and the annual up to $200 Dell credit, you'll effectively pay a net of only $195 a year for the card. This card proves its worth and then some for any businessperson engaged in regular travel. From lounge access at almost any airport in the world to elite status at Hilton and Marriott hotels, plus helping you get onto the internet while in the air during flights, this card has tons of benefits (not to mention that welcome bonus that's higher than ever) just waiting for you to take advantage of.

Greek police make arrest in 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 17:38:57 -0400

Greek police make arrest in 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847Greek police said Saturday they have arrested a suspect in the 1985 hijacking of a flight from Athens that became a multi-day ordeal and included the slaying of an American. Police said a 65-year-old suspect in the hijacking was arrested Thursday on the island of Mykonos in response to a warrant from Germany. Lt. Col. Theodoros Chronopoulos, a police spokesman, told The Associated Press that the hijacking case involved TWA Flight 847.

Israel cuts power in parts of West Bank over debts
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 15:19:47 -0400

Israel cuts power in parts of West Bank over debtsIsrael's national electricity company said Sunday it was cutting power to parts of the occupied West Bank due to outstanding payments amounting to nearly $483 million. The Israel Electric Corporation said it was owed 1.7 billion shekels in debts from the main Palestinian power distributor for the West Bank, which is based in east Jerusalem. From Monday, the company "will reduce the current in some areas of the West Bank" because of the debts, it said in a statement.

'She was drunk:' Bus driver facing DUI charges after child calls 911 to report her
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 17:48:42 -0400

'She was drunk:' Bus driver facing DUI charges after child calls 911 to report herA bus driver in Washington has been arrested after a child called 911 to report that she was driving under the influence.

Dozens detained in Kazakhstan at anti-China protests
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 09:36:31 -0400

Dozens detained in Kazakhstan at anti-China protestsALMATY/NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Police detained dozens in Kazakhstan's two largest cities on Saturday as they took part in the latest protest against China's influence in the Central Asian republic. Neighboring China is already one of Kazakhstan's largest investors and trade partners and a plan to relocate a number of Chinese plants and factories to the former Soviet republic has faced public opposition. The latest round of protests on Saturday was organized by supporters of Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive banker living in France who has been the fiercest critic of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

US military apologises for threat to blow up millennials if they stormed Area 51
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 10:39:00 -0400

US military apologises for threat to blow up millennials if they stormed Area 51The US military has apologised for threatening to deploy a stealth bomber on millennials who had been planning to “storm” the Area 51 test base in the Nevada desert. Over the weekend, an estimated 150 people descended on the highly secretive base, about two hours drive from Las Vegas, which has long been a magnet for UFO enthusiasts convinced that it housed aliens from outer space. Thousands had been expected after a student created a Facebook page in June called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us”. The page became a viral sensation with more than three million people expressing an interest in turning up to “see them aliens”. On Friday, fearing a mass invasion, the Defence Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) - the US military PR arm - posted a picture of service personnel standing by a B-2 stealth bomber alongside the caption: "The last thing Millennials will see if they attempt the area51raid today". In reality, the feared flood of alien-spotters turned out to be little more than a trickle of eccentrics in an eclectic array of costumes who were an irritant rather than a danger to national security. Last night a DVIDSHUB employee posted a Tweet that in NO WAY supports the stance of the Department of Defense. It was inappropriate and we apologize for this mistake.— DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) September 21, 2019 Given the festive atmosphere and small crowd, military chiefs soon realised that their stealth bomb threat was a rather excessive response to a bunch of curiosity seekers whose presence had led to a handful of arrests for such heinous offences as public urination. DVIDS sought to undo the damage by deleting the offending tweet and posting on Saturday saying that the previous day’s message  “in NO WAY supports the stance of the Department of Defence. It was inappropriate and we apologise for this mistake.” The local police approach to the good-natured invasion had been somewhat more measured, advising those who pitched up to watch out for rattlesnakes and setting out some rudimentary ground rules. This was not the first time the US military has been obliged to say sorry for posting inappropriate tweets. On December 31, US Strategic Command, which is responsible for the country’s strategic arsenal apologised for a tweet saying it was ready, if necessary, to drop something “much, much bigger” than the New Year’s Eve ball in New York.

Tropical Storm Karen Has Formed in the Atlantic and Could Hit Puerto Rico. Here’s What to Know About Its Path
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 11:45:08 -0400

Tropical Storm Karen Has Formed in the Atlantic and Could Hit Puerto Rico. Here’s What to Know About Its PathIt could approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands by Tuesday

Woman convicted in texting suicide case denied parole
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 17:53:38 -0400

Woman convicted in texting suicide case denied paroleThe Massachusetts woman convicted of encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself via text messages has been denied early release.

Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Rhinos
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 09:00:00 -0400

Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Rhinos

Progressive revolt against Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema is exactly why Trump will win (again)
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 10:19:23 -0400

Progressive revolt against Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema is exactly why Trump will win (again)Progressives want to censure Kyrsten Sinema, the first Arizona Democrat to win a Senate seat in 30 years. Genius idea: Hurtle left, right off a cliff.

Trial begins for ex-Dallas cop who shot neighbor in his home
Mon, 23 Sep 2019 00:04:21 -0400

Trial begins for ex-Dallas cop who shot neighbor in his homeOpening statements are set to begin Monday in the murder trial of a white police officer accused of shooting her black neighbor in his Dallas apartment. Amber Guyger, 31, is expected in a city courthouse Monday morning, where she will stand trial for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean last year. The case has attracted intense national scrutiny for its strange circumstances and as one in a chain of shootings of black men by white police officers.

Hong Kong curbs airport links as protesters vow 'stress test'
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 01:40:06 -0400

Hong Kong curbs airport links as protesters vow 'stress test'Hong Kong reduced rail and bus links to the city's airport on Sunday and police stepped up security checks in a bid to scupper plans by pro-democracy protesters to disrupt the bustling transport hub. The airport -- the world's eighth busiest -- has become a frequent target for a protest movement pushing for greater democratic rights and police accountability. Online forums used by the largely leaderless movement had called for a "stress test" of the airport on Sunday, code for disrupting travel links or occupying buildings.

New York Post blasts Bill de Blasio with 'obituary' for his ended presidential campaign
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:48:31 -0400

New York Post blasts Bill de Blasio with 'obituary' for his ended presidential campaignThe New York Post wrote that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's presidential campaign had "died" from "ego-induced psychosis."

Canada's Trudeau pledges lower taxes, cellphone costs as blackface scandal hits him in polls
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 10:11:10 -0400

Canada's Trudeau pledges lower taxes, cellphone costs as blackface scandal hits him in pollsCanadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went on the offensive on Sunday, promising to cut middle-class taxes and slash cellphone costs if re-elected after polls showed he took a significant hit when photos emerged last week of him in blackface. Trudeau has repeatedly apologized for the images, which jarred with his oft-stated position that he wants to improve the lot of minorities in Canada and prompted accusations of hypocrisy. Trudeau announced the proposed cuts to taxes and cellphone bills in the Ontario city of Brampton, where 58% of the population is either South Asian or black.

Number One Priority: The Pentagon Is Doubling-Down on Hypersonic Missiles
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 05:43:00 -0400

Number One Priority: The Pentagon Is Doubling-Down on Hypersonic MissilesAn important weapon of the future.

Mexico's Minimum Wage Under Review for Gradual Boost: AMLO
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 15:32:32 -0400

Mexico's Minimum Wage Under Review for Gradual Boost: AMLO(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s minimum wage will be reviewed for a possible boost to strengthen the purchasing power of workers, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday, the newspaper Reforma reported.The increase will be gradual, he said while touring the state of Campeche, because the rate can’t be changed by decree. Economic activity has to increase so businesses are able to provide jobs that pay fair wages, he said.A national poll last week showed Lopez Obrador’s approval fell to 61% from 66% as the economy teeters on the brink of a technical recession. Investors are uncertain about an economy now estimated by the central bank to grow 0.2% to 0.7% this year, down from 0.8% to 1.8% previously.“I did some research on minimum wages in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and was surprised to learn that they are twice what we have in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said. “It turns out even China has a higher minimum wage than Mexico, so it’s something we’re going to look into.”To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Navarro in Mexico City at anavarro30@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Case at, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Heavy rain, locally severe storms to soak the central US through Sunday night
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 13:40:22 -0400

Heavy rain, locally severe storms to soak the central US through Sunday nightTropical moisture streaming into the central Plains from the tropical systems in the East Pacific Ocean will help to fuel locally severe thunderstorms and flooding downpours across the region into Sunday night.Drenching rain developed across the Dakotas and northern Minnesota Friday evening and continued into Saturday morning as a storm system began to strengthen over the region.> Heavy rain over North Dakota and northwest Minnesota has lead to totals of 5 to 7 inches of rain. This map is radar estimated so if you have seen higher let us know! ndwx mnwx> > -- NWS Grand Forks (@NWSGrandForks) September 21, 2019Residents woke up to flooded roadways as over five inches of rain fell in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Friday night. Radar-estimated rainfall shows similar rainfall totals across much of the area.Grand Forks normally receives 2.05 inches of rain through the month of September.Downpours erupted farther south on Saturday afternoon and evening, targeting a corridor from northern Kansas to southwestern Iowa.The storm system that soaked the northern Plains to begin the weekend will continue to slowly sag southeastward into Sunday night. Tropical moisture from Lorena and Mario will be pulled northward into the central Plains, enhancing rainfall across the region.Through Sunday evening, downpours will soak the same areas of the central Plains that were hit late Saturday. But as tropical moisture was also pulled farther north, bringing drenching rain into Illinois, Iowa and Michigan.Flash flooding will be most common in areas where the front stalls and brings multiple rounds of heavy rain into Sunday evening. "This will have the ability to produce widespread rainfall totals of 1-3 inches with an AccuWeather StormMax™ of 6 inches," AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.Chicago; Green Bay; Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri; and Oklahoma City are forecast to be in the heavy rain area.Those heading outdoors on Sunday will need to be aware of possible road closures due to flooding and pack rain gear.A line of locally heavy showers and thunderstorms along the cold front will begin to push south out of the central Plains Sunday night, while the bulk of the rain spreads into parts of the Ohio Valley.The storm system will move toward the Northeast on Monday and drier air will settle into the northern and central Plains for the start of the work week.

Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a century
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 11:00:51 -0400

Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a centuryFor more than a century, motorised vehicles have been banned from Mackinac Island in Michigan - giving the former Revolutionary War battle site a unique charm and turning it into a tourist haven.The ban is so strictly enforced that when President Gerald Ford visited in 1975, he and first lady Betty Ford travelled by horse-drawn carriage.

More Fracking, or More War?
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 06:30:17 -0400

More Fracking, or More War?Here is a news lead that begins with a bang and ends with a whimper: “The strike on the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including damage to the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility, has driven oil prices to their highest level in” — here, Reuters should have used some ellipses of irony — “nearly four months.”Four months!If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as “fracking” — though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it — has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum — thanks to fracking. The pointy-headed guys in the Washington war rooms spend a lot less time worrying about whether tankers can get through the Strait of Hormuz these days. And that means the United States has a much more free hand — and more realistic options — when dealing with Riyadh, Tehran, or any of the other pits of vipers that pass for national capitals in that part of the world.“No war for oil!” they chanted when George W. Bush’s administration prepared to invade Iraq. It was always a stupid slogan — if we’d wanted to get our hands on that Iraqi oil, we could simply have bought it at a discount rather than pay a horrifying blood premium for it — but now that chant can reasonably be turned back on its authors: If you want less war, then you should want a lot more fracking.And not just here in the United States, even though the people of New York State, for example, would be much better off without Governor Andrew Cuomo’s idiotic and politically driven prohibition on the most effective means of petroleum production. Spain has seen its demand for natural gas climb as worldwide production drives prices down, but, thanks to its own Cuomos, the country remains largely dependent on imports from Algeria and Nigeria — even though it sits on reserves that by some estimates are equal to the better part of a century’s consumption. The United Kingdom may be able to extricate itself from the European Union, but if nothing changes, it will remain vulnerable to the same Russian energy pressure as much of Europe. In much the same way that increased petroleum production has given the United States a stronger position vis-à-vis the Middle East, more British and European production means more British and European options.Set aside the fantasy of “energy independence.” World energy markets are heavily integrated, and it probably is never going to be the case that what happens in Saudi Arabia or Russia or Iran has no effect on U.S., British, or European prices and supplies. And even if that happy state comes to be someday, it is not the case now and will not be the case in the near future: The spare capacity that allows the world petroleum markets to function smoothly provides, at the moment, a margin that is insufficient to cover the production that could realistically be taken offline by a broader Iranian attack on Saudi energy infrastructure. U.S. refineries remain disproportionately optimized for the relatively high-sulfur oil we’ve long imported rather than for the “light sweet” crude we produce. Our own energy infrastructure, and that of the rest of the world, remains far too vulnerable to terrorism and conventional military attack. There is much work to be done.It all begins with supply. The more supply there is, the more incentive to build out and improve the infrastructure, the more liquid the market, the less fragile the system. There is no substitute for abundance — and a wide choice of providers. Every barrel of oil and cubic foot of natural gas produced outside of the Middle East and Russia makes the United States and its allies better off.Beady-eyed realpolitik used to mean deferring to the world’s big oil producers when it came to our relations in the Middle East. Now it means being the world’s big oil producer and — once they decide they’ve grown tired of unnecessarily taking on risk while giving up wealth, income, and jobs — helping our British and European allies become bigger players, too. Fracking involves some real environmental challenges — American producers and regulators have developed great skill at dealing with them. The environmental challenges of fracking are manageable. The Saudis and the Iranians are manageable, too, but at a radically higher cost in blood and resources.Politics is about tradeoffs. We owe it to ourselves to take the smart one.