March 24, 2019
Posted by orrinj at 6:38 PM
Survey: SC Democratic Party county chairs say early interest on Cory Booker, Kamala Harris (Schuyler Kropf and Andy Shain, Mar 24, 2019, Post & Courier)
If a majority of South Carolina's Democratic Party county chairs had to pick a presidential nominee today, the choice would come down to a two-person duel, not an open scrum.With 11 months to go until the Feb. 29, 2020, primary, U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey are the clear popular nods (not necessarily in that order), according to a telephone survey of the party leaders by The Post and Courier.The trend was seen in all four regions of the state: the Lowcountry, Pee Dee, Midlands and Upstate. Two-thirds of the county officials agreed to offer opinions.
Posted by orrinj at 5:59 PM
FAILURE TO GRANT AMNESTY WAS HIS SINGULAR ERROR:
Bush's immigration message strikes the right tone for national discussion (Las Vegas Sun, March 24, 2019)
In his remarks, Bush expressed regret that he wasn't able to guide the comprehensive immigration reform package he developed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2007 through the legislative process. But he also took the opportunity to urge the nation's leaders to "dial down the rhetoric, put politics aside and modernize our immigration law soon."He further gave an inspiring and compelling explanation of why the nation should continue to welcome immigrants. Here it is:"The United States is in many ways the most successful of nations. Historically, where immigration is concerned, we're also the most welcoming of nations. And these two facts are related."So many of us can draw a line back to a man or woman who had the idea that life could be better, and that hope led them here."Generations of new arrivals left their mark on our national character, in traits that friends abroad still recognize as distinctly American -- our optimism, our independence and openness to the new, our willingness to strive and to risk, our sense of life as an adventure dignified by personal freedom and personality responsibility."Such qualities don't come out of nowhere. A spirit of self-reliance runs deep in our immigrant heritage, along with the humility and kindness to look at someone less fortunate and see yourself. Across the world, good men and women still dream of starting life anew in America -- people who bring energy and talent and faith in the future."Often, they bring a special love of freedom because they have seen how life works without it."The great yearning of so many to live in our country presents a significant challenge. America's elected representatives have a duty to regulate who comes in, and when. In meeting this responsibility, it helps to remember that America's immigrant history made us who we are."Amid all the complications of policy, may we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength."
Posted by orrinj at 8:22 AM
ANTI-SEMITIC ZIONISM VS PHILOSEMITIC ANTI-ZIONISM:
Megadonor Who Withdrew From AIPAC Conference Has History Of Controversial Tweets (Josh Nathan-Kazis, 3/19/19, The Forward)
Adam Milstein, the chairman of the hawkish Israeli American Council, backed out of a commitment to moderate a panel at the upcoming AIPAC conference amid a controversy over a tweet in which he said that the values of Muslim congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib "clash with American values."Milstein, who also serves on the boards of a number of pro-Israel groups, including the AIPAC National Council, the Israel on Campus Coalition and StandWithUs, has a long history of controversial tweets. Below, some standouts.1. SorosIn 2017, Milstein tweeted a picture depicting Jewish billionaire George Soros as an octopus enveloping the world -- an image that drew on common anti-Semitic tropes. He later deleted the tweet. "I'll try to be more careful in the future," he told JTA at the time.2. Soros, againEarlier that year, Milstein had described George Soros in a tweet as "a self-hating #Jew."
Posted by orrinj at 8:07 AM
SUNSHINE IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT:
I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can -- and should -- release the Mueller report. (Neal Kumar Katyal, March 22, 2019, Washington Post)
[T]he mentions of "brief" and "confidential" in the regulations and accompanying commentary were just general guidelines for each type of report. The text of the regulations never required the attorney general's report to Congress to be short or nonpublic. Rather, that text expressly included a key provision saying the "Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest," even if the public release may deviate from ordinary Justice Department protocols.The regulations at their core are about a central problem that can be traced back to the Roman poet and satirist Juvenal many centuries ago: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes: Who will guard the guards? Whenever there are allegations of high level executive branch wrongdoing, there is a justifiable worry that the executive branch itself cannot adequately investigate it. The Justice Department, after all, is an executive branch agency, and it has the power to squelch any investigation. The special counsel regulations were written to allow someone outside the Justice Department to run the investigation on a day-to-day basis, while making that someone always subject ultimately to the control of the attorney general.One might ask why the regulations would give the attorney general such control. The answer is simple: the Constitution requires it. In our system of government, the president is vested with full power over prosecutions, and the attorney general is the official who exercises that executive authority. There is no way to create a headless prosecutor in some other branch of government -- which is why the regulations endeavor not to cut the attorney general out of prosecutions (which would be unconstitutional), but rather to shed sunlight and transparency on the choices an attorney general makes.The most important thing to understand about the regulations is that they were written to function like a constitution. This isn't meant to be grandiose; it is simply to say that they were written to provide a broad blueprint for dealing with crises that could not be anticipated at the time of their drafting. The idea was not to create a comprehensive set of dos and don'ts, like a tax code. Instead, it was to mark the great outlines of the special counsel's power and responsibilities.For that reason, the regulations do not, in all cases, compel public release of a special counsel report, but they do not forbid it either. The regulations were written to govern not just investigations of presidents in a variety of circumstances, but also of other, lower ranking government officials -- and it would be inappropriate to have a one-size-fits-all solution to the vast array of officials and crimes that would require investigation in the many years to come. That is why the canard that some Trump allies are floating, that a public release of the report would violate the special counsel regulations, is false. The regulations set a floor, not a ceiling, on the amount of transparency. They require transparency and an "explanation of each action" at the end of the special counsel investigation, but they don't forbid more transparency on top of that.Fears of a government coverup are at their apogee when we are talking about a criminal investigation of the president. Article II of our Constitution gives only the president the prosecution power -- he alone can stop any prosecution or investigation he wishes. So any investigation into presidential wrongdoing by definition runs headlong into the who-guards-the-guards problem. And in those circumstances, more disclosure (with redactions for classified and deeply private information) is necessary, both to deal with that problem and to maintain public confidence in the rule of law.The need for public disclosure is even greater here because President Trump's lawyers have repeatedly invoked the idea that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Every scholar who takes that view couples it to impeachment -- explaining that Congress must perform its duty of impeachment so that a lawbreaking president can be removed from office and then brought to justice. Otherwise the president would be above the law. And there is no way impeachment can work efficiently if Congress is not given all of the facts the special counsel has uncovered. That is why in 1974, special prosecutor Leon Jaworski gave Congress his investigative material, including even grand jury materials.
Posted by orrinj at 7:49 AM
AS LONG AS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS HAVING A MOMENT...:
Not Your Founding Fathers' Electoral College (Robert Schlesinger, Dec. 27, 2016, U.S. News & World Report)
"The Electoral College system ... was created by the founding fathers for the new Republic not as a direct outgrowth of eighteenth-century political principles but rather as an ad hoc compromise between those who believed in election of the president by Congress and those who believed in popular election," the political scientist William Keech wrote in 1978. Some founders wanted direct election; others mistrusted average voters' "capacity to judge of the respective pretensions of the candidates," as George Mason put it. This was especially true given the expectation - before the two-party system arose to winnow the number of contenders - that voters would be choosing among a host of candidates from far afield. How could some farmer from Virginia or New York know enough about all the candidates from other states and regions, the reasoning went.So the compromise was the Electoral College, which per Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68 would allow the "sense of the people [to] operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided," while filtering that vox populi through "men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station." The original conception of the Electoral College, in other words, was a body of men who could serve as a check on the uninformed mass electorate. "This does not mean they were created as free agents authorized to ignore or invalidate the choice of the voters," the historian Arthur Schlesinger, my father, wrote in "War and the American Presidency" in 2004. "The framers, with their talent for ambiguity, were hazy on the question of the electors' freedom to choose." Certainly it was there to some extent. As Keech wrote, "the possibility of electors substituting their own judgments for those of their state's voters was not ruled out by the Constitution. Such a practice was not implausible or offensive by the political values of the day."
...we ought to return to the Founders' original intent and elect leading citizens from each state to meet and decide on a president.
Posted by orrinj at 7:45 AM
ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE:
'Florida Man' challenge sweeps social media (MIKE SCHNEIDER, 3/23/19, Associated Press)
A social media challenge is encouraging people to look up what version of Florida Man they are based on their birthdays.Florida Man has become shorthand for a unique brand of news story mined from the Sunshine State that usually involves guns, drugs, booze or reptiles -- often in startling combination.The challenge asks people to run their birthday and "Florida Man" through a search engine to find out which Florida Man headline pops up.
Posted by orrinj at 6:52 AM
THE CRIME AND THE RESTITUTION:
Man who toppled headstones at Jewish cemetery in U. City gets probation (Erin Heffernan, 3/23/19, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
A man who told police he toppled more than 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in University City in 2017 because he was drunk, on drugs and mad at a friend was sentenced Thursday to three years probation and a suspended sentence.Alzado M. Harris, 35, of Northwoods, confessed to knocking over the headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in February 2017, causing more than $30,000 in damage, according to court documents. [...]Tarek El-Messidi, a Muslim social justice advocate from Philadelphia, and another volunteer raised $160,000 for restoration efforts at the cemetery within a few weeks of the vandalism.
Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM
THE KIDS AREN'T ALRIGHT:
An Interview With Lisa Littman, Who Coined the Term 'Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria' (Jonathan Kay, 3/19/19, Quillette)
In your own words, how would you describe the central focus of your research?This research explores, through the reports of parents, a phenomenon whereby teens and young adults who did not exhibit childhood signs of gender issues appeared to suddenly identify as transgender. This new identification seemed to occur in the context of either belonging to a group of friends [in which] multiple--or even all--members became transgender-identified around the same time, or through immersion in social media, or both. The findings of the research support the hypotheses that what I have described could represent a new type of gender dysphoria (referred to as Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria [or ROGD]); that, for some teens and young adults, their gender dysphoria might represent a maladaptive coping mechanism; and that peer and social influences might contribute to the development of gender dysphoria. More research will need to be done to confirm or refute these hypotheses.What was the professional background that brought you to this research into gender dysphoria?I'm a physician who is trained in both obstetrics and gynecology, and in preventive medicine and public health. I spent the first few years of my career delivering babies and providing gynecologic care to women, and I spent the most recent decade of my career involved in public health and reproductive health research. I am currently an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Brown University School of Public Health in Rhode Island. Until recently, I was working as a physician-consultant on a variety of public-health projects mostly related to the health of pregnant women (immunizations, smoking cessation, oral health, premature births) with the Rhode Island Department of Health. I am also a mother, a spouse, a daughter and sister who has been extremely fortunate to have healthy, happy and strong relationships with my family. My core beliefs about the importance of family relationships comprise a central part of who I am. Caring about the health and well-being of individuals and families has been one of the guiding principles of my professional and personal life.Why did you decide to conduct research in this area?I became interested in studying gender dysphoria when I observed, in my own community, an unusual pattern whereby teens from the same friend group began announcing transgender identities on social media, one after the other, on a scale that greatly exceeded expected numbers. I searched online and found several narratives of parents describing this type of pattern happening with their teen and young adult kids who had no history of gender dysphoria during their childhoods. I searched numerous websites, and found only three posting these types of parent accounts at that time. Then, I spoke with a clinician who was hearing her clients describe this phenomenon as something happening in their families. The descriptions of multiple friends from the same pre-existing group becoming transgender-identified at the same time were very surprising. Parents reported that, after announcing a transgender identity, the kids became increasingly sullen, withdrawn and hostile toward their families. They also said that the clinicians they saw were only interested in fast-tracking gender-affirmation and transition and were resistant to even evaluating the child's pre-existing and current mental health issues.I found these stories compelling and heartbreaking. Gender dysphoria has been studied for a long time, and I recognized that this presentation was not consistent with the existing research. I saw that kids, parents and families were suffering, and I felt that I needed to do something to help. If these descriptions of clinicians refusing to evaluate and treat trauma and mental health issues were true, it means that a vulnerable population was being deprived of much-needed mental-health services. As a physician and researcher trained in public health, I knew I had an important skill set and perspective to bring to the discussion. I felt that the best way that I could contribute was to conduct research to better understand what, where, and why this might be happening.
Posted by orrinj at 6:33 AM
Wake Up, American Jews: You've Enabled Israel's Racism For Years. (Joshua LeiferFebruary 25, 2019, The Forward)
For years, the men who make up Otzma Yehudit -- Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben Gvir, Benzi Gopstein, Michael Ben-Ari -- stalked the outer limits of Israeli political discourse. But what distinguished them from the rest of the right was not so much substance as style; to borrow New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie's phrase about President Trump, they took the subtext of the right's agenda and made it text.They said loudly what many on the Israeli right, at least in the past, preferred to whisper, and certainly never to say in English: that Israel would be a Jewish supremacist state, not a democracy; that the Palestinians would forever live subjugated under military occupation, confined to isolated Bantustans, or they would be expelled from the West Bank and into Jordan; that leftists and peaceniks were traitors, and that traitors would be dealt with accordingly.Today, even without Otzma Yehudit, there is no shortage of Knesset members -- ministers in Netanyahu's outgoing government -- who say these sorts of things. For example, Miri Regev, Israel's culture minister, joined Otzma Yehudit's Michael Ben-Ari in inciting a vicious pogrom against African asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv in 2012.Naftali Bennett, minister of education and the diaspora, boasts of how many people he's killed and has a plan to annex large portions of the West Bank.Betzalel Smotrich, deputy speaker of the Knesset, calls himself a "proud homophobe" and proposes paying Palestinians compensation for trucking them out of the West Bank and into Jordan.Then there is Avigdor Liberman, the former minister of Defense, with a long history of inflammatory racist comments, who proposed transferring Palestinian citizens of Israel into the West Bank and once remarked of Arab MKs, "there is no reason for them to remain Israeli citizens."Israeli politics during the successive Netanyahu governments has become a parade of hate speech, with right-wing politicians competing over who will do the worst to "the Arabs." During the Likud primaries, Yaron Mazuz, the deputy minister of the environment, even campaigned with the proud endorsement of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier jailed for nine months for shooting an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the head.It is hardly surprising, then, that Netanyahu sought an alliance with the far-right, Kahanist Otzma Yehudit, and his own Likud: the rhetoric of the two parties is increasingly indistinguishable. Likud, nominally a center-right party, has lurched far to the right, and not just in rhetoric but also in policy. Last year, the party's central committee unanimously voted in favor of annexing parts of the West Bank.
March 23, 2019
Posted by orrinj at 8:23 PM
ACCUSATIONS OF ANTI-SEMITISM ARE THE LAST REFUGE OF SCOUNDRELS:
In rare TV interview, PM lashes out at opponents, accuses them of 'blood libel' (TOI STAFF and MICHAEL BACHNER, 3/23/19, Times of Israel)
In a rare television interview on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at his main political rivals in the upcoming national election, accusing them of "a campaign of lies," of issuing "a blood libel" against him, and even of "endangering the security of the State of Israel."
Posted by orrinj at 6:35 AM
IT'S A CONSERVATIVE EPOCH:
South America leaders form Prosur to replace defunct Unasur bloc (Deutsch-Welle, 3/22/19)
Consider the superhuman effort it took for Donald to lose Congress.Seven right-wing presidents of South American nations gathered in Chile's capital Santiago on Friday to announce a new political association dubbed Forum for the Progress of South America, or Prosur.The bloc would function "without ideology and bureaucracy, but with a total commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said.Prosur includes Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Guyana. Leftist governments in Bolivia and Uruguay sent representatives to the Santiago meeting, but did not join the bloc.
Posted by orrinj at 6:33 AM
IF MUELLER HAD HANDLED THE INVESTIGATION HILLARY'D BE PRESIDENT NOW:
Mueller Cannot Seek an Indictment. And He Must Remain Silent. (Ken Starr, 3/22/19, The Atlantic)
As the nation awaits the Mueller report, a return to first principles is in order. One relevant first principle was dramatically illustrated in the breach during the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Then-FBI Director James Comey announced at a press conference that no criminal charges would be brought against Hillary Clinton. Comey didn't stop there, however. In that press conference, which will continue to live in infamy, Comey sharply criticized the former secretary of state for her ill-considered conduct in housing a server in her private residence, only to receive official and--not infrequently--classified information.The nation should have risen, as one, in righteous indignation in the aftermath of the Comey press conference. In a single misadventure, Comey both seized power that was not his--the power to seek an indictment, a prerogative that was entrusted to the attorney general--and then violated one of the fundamental principles of public prosecution: Thou shalt not drag a subject or target of the investigation through the mud via public criticism. Prosecutors either seek an indictment, or remain quiet.Robert Mueller is not your everyday prosecutor, however. Under Department of Justice policy, a sitting president cannot be indicted. This prosecutor, unlike other prosecutors, cannot indict if he finds an indictable offense. And in contrast to the practices and policies that govern thousands of federal prosecutors around the country, this former FBI director--now a special counsel--has a specific reporting obligation. That solemn obligation is not to produce a public report. He cannot seek an indictment. And he must remain quiet.
Posted by orrinj at 6:30 AM
THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:
Shanahan's nomination to head Pentagon on ice (DAVID BROWN, DANIEL LIPPMAN and GABBY ORR, 03/22/2019, Politico)
Patrick Shanahan's expected promotion to permanently head the Defense Department has stalled amid an ethics investigation and a series of unimpressive public performances, according to four people with knowledge of internal White House discussions.Shanahan, who has served as the Pentagon's acting chief since Jim Mattis resigned in December, has also been hampered by the deadly crashes of two airliners manufactured by his former employer, Boeing -- the company that's also at the heart of his ethics problems.
Posted by orrinj at 6:19 AM
THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:
Trump's son-in-law Kushner cooperating with U.S. House probe: source (David Morgan, Mark Hosenball, 3/22/19, Reuters)
Democrats in the House of Representatives have launched numerous inquiries into Trump, his presidency, his family and his business interests. The Mueller investigation has been focused on the election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow in its effort to sway U.S. voters in Trump's favor.Although Mueller's report is finished, its contents were not yet known late on Friday. Details were expected soon.Russia has denied U.S. intelligence agencies' findings that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 campaign. Trump has denied any collusion and dismissed Mueller's probe as a "witch hunt."Among the Judiciary Committee's aims are determining if Trump obstructed justice by ousting perceived enemies at the Justice Department and abused his power by possibly offering pardons or tampering with witnesses.It was not clear how much material Kushner provided to the committee. But investigators sought documents from him on more than two dozen topics. Those topics ranged from a June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to any Trump transition team contacts with Russia.Stone's lawyer Grant Smith said in the letter to Nadler that Stone faces federal criminal charges and that it "is not in Mr. Stone's best interest" to participate in any other proceedings.
Explainer: Why Trump's legal woes go beyond the Mueller report (Jan Wolfe, 3/22/19, Reuters)
MUELLER'S CRIMINAL CASESMueller charged 34 individuals and three companies. Several of those cases resulted in guilty pleas and one case went to trial, with former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort convicted in August 2018 of eight criminal counts, including bank fraud and tax fraud. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted in January of this year and pleaded not guilty, but his trial is still pending. There are other cases involving indicted Russians that have not gone to trial. Other prosecutors within the Justice Department will likely take over criminal cases begun by Mueller, legal experts said.BUSINESS PRACTICES AND FINANCIAL DEALINGSTrump may face significant peril from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to legal experts. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in Feb. 27 congressional testimony that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York is examining Trump's business practices and financial dealings. Cohen already has implicated Trump in campaign finance law violations to which he pleaded guilty in August 2018 as part of the Southern District investigation.Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance laws by arranging, at Trump's direction, "hush money" payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to porn film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump's candidacy. Both women said they had sexual relationships with Trump more than a decade ago. He has denied that.Prosecutors said the payments constituted illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election. Under federal election laws, such donations cannot exceed $2,700 and need to be publicly disclosed. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, received $130,000. McDougal received $150,000.The New York investigation has involved longtime Trump ally David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper, who admitted to paying McDougal for the rights to her story and then suppressing it to influence the election, an arrangement called "catch and kill."During his Feb. 27 congressional hearing, Cohen said he was in "constant contact" with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, and said other crimes and wrongdoing by Trump are being investigated by them, though he did not offer details. Cohen said he could not testify about the nature of his last conversation with Trump in early 2018 because it was under investigation by the federal prosecutors in New York.
Posted by orrinj at 6:14 AM
WHICH IS WHY IT HAS TO BE COUPLED WITH A TRANSITION TO CONSUMPTION TAXES:
The colossal problem with universal basic income (Douglas Rushkoff, 3/23/19, Big Think)
So what really happens what is universal basic income? It's just a way of perpetuating our roles as consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, not as owners. If we're going to go to anything, I would say, what about universal basic assets? What about actual participation? What if the workers owned the means of production? So you don't just give them a handout so that the money ends up in the same corporate coffers and going into the same shares. That's not the point.
Posted by orrinj at 6:11 AM
NO ONE WILL MISS THE OLYMPICS:
Headless Goat Polo Is A Top Sport At World Nomad Games (JOEL GOLDBERG, 3/22/19, NPR)
Two bare-chested men on horseback wrestle. The goal is to pull your opponent off the horse so a part of his body touches the ground.Three dogs chase a dummy clad in a fox or hare skin to see who's fastest. Biting an opponent is grounds for disqualification.And then there is this sport: "Each team seeks to throw as many goat carcasses as possible into the tai kazan (goal) of the opposing team."They're definitely not Olympic sports but they are a part of another global competition: The World Nomad Games, held in Kyrgyzstan last September. That's the landlocked central Asian nation of 6.2 million that, centuries ago, was a stop on the Silk Road traveled by traders from China to the Mediterranean. In modern times, it was part of the Soviet Union until it declared independence in 1991.This was the third iteration of the games, which were spearheaded by former Kyrgyzstani president Almazbek Atambayev and highlight both unusual regional sports as well as more traditional ones like archery. According to the local press, 2,000 athletes from 80 countries competed before an audience of 150,000, about a third of whom were foreign tourists. The overall cost was about $6.7 million, with $2.3 million covered by private sponsors and the rest picked up by the government.
Posted by orrinj at 6:09 AM
CARE AND FEEDING OF THE WAHOOS:
Kudos to Lamar Alexander for Criticizing Trump's 'Free Speech' Executive Order (JIM SWIFT, MARCH 23, 2019, The Bulwark)
The general consensus is that this action is largely redundant, mostly for show. To get funding for research, universities already have to protect free speech on campus. This executive order, vague as it is, doesn't seem to add anything else to that. And it doesn't interfere with financial aid, which is in itself interesting in a way.Those old enough to remember might think back to Grove City College v. Bell. Which is to say that this is about power and intimidation, even if it's largely toothless and for show. Conservatives used to appreciate keeping the government out of these things.That's where Alexander weighs in:And I agree that colleges should punish hecklers who veto free speech, and stop coddling students to protect them from disagreeable points of view. But I don't want to see Congress or the President or the department of anything creating speech codes to define what you can say on campus. The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in. Conservatives don't like it when judges try to write laws, and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution.Amen. They're not making any more Lamar Alexanders these days. Instead, we're raising a crop of Charlie Kirks.
Posted by orrinj at 6:07 AM
WE ALL KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS:
'We want real democracy': Thailand's youth voice hopes ahead of election (ABBIE O'BRIEN, 3/23/19, SBS)
Young Thais have grown up in climate of political instability, marked by two military coups over the past decade. The events have divided the country into two camps - supporters of the pro-military royalist parties and those who back the ousted leaders.Thailand has not held a general election in eight years and as a consequence there are over 7 million first time voters - a record number.This election is their first taste of democracy.Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said many are embracing Thanathorn with a level of political enthusiasm not seen in years."I have not seen a kind of collective voice and pent-up disenchantment with the status quo that I'm seeing today," he told SBS News."A lot of young people - 25 and under and even 40 and under - they're more politically active, conscious [voters].That is certainly the case at Bangkok's Thammasat University, where SBS News asked students how they are feeling about the vote."Very excited!" said one female student."Since we were young, we didn't see any change [but] we've seen lot of coup d'états. It's like a circle, it never ends. We want to see change - real democracy," a male student explained.And it is no surprise who they want to see lead that change."Thanathorn's campaign respond to our needs," said a student for the university's school of political science. [...]While the Future Forward Party are not the front-runners in this race, many at the rally hope they will win enough seats in tomorrow's vote to give Thai politics a new voice.
Posted by orrinj at 6:01 AM
THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:
The Mueller Report Is Done, But Investigations Related To Trump Will Go On (PHILIP EWING, 3/23/19, NPR)
The Justice Department is undertaking several cases related to Trump that are likely to continue:Prosecutors have charged GOP political consultant Roger Stone with obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress in connection with his work in 2016 on behalf of Trump's campaign. Stone has pleaded not guilty, and that case could go to trial later this year.The case against the Russian company Concord Management and Consulting, which has been linked to Russia's social media disinformation campaign, continues in Washington, D.C.Prosecutors are charging former business partners of Trump's ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn in a case in the Eastern District of Virginia.Flynn -- who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and cooperated extensively with the FBI -- hasn't been sentenced. The government said it would be fine with a lenient sentence, but it will be up to a judge how and when to finally decide Flynn's punishment.Another important outstanding case is that of Rick Gates, a business associate of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Gates also has been cooperating with investigators since pleading guilty last year to conspiracy and making false statements. Justice Department officials have said in court documents that he has given so much good information they want his sentence to be delayed so their work can continue.Prosecutors in Washington secured a guilty plea from a Russian woman, Maria Butina, who admitted to conspiring to serve as a Russian agent inside the U.S.Her boyfriend, Paul Erickson, has been indicted on fraud charges in South Dakota -- but the question remains open as to whether he might also be charged in a case related more closely to Butina's.Erickson has pleaded not guilty and said he has done nothing wrong. His attorney called him a "good American."Then there is the matter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.Assange's anti-secrecy website released material in 2016 stolen by Russia's military intelligence agency as part of its scheme to interfere in the presidential election in support of Trump. There may be a sealed indictment in his case -- or a grand jury may be working now to compile more information for new charges.Assange's attorney has said he doesn't know whether there is a sealed indictment but calls it unacceptable that authorities might try to charge Assange for publishing truthful information.In New York City, prosecutors have charged the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials at Trump Tower in June 2016 to provide a political tip about Democrats.The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has been charged with obstruction of justice in an unrelated case that revealed how closely she worked with the Russian government -- although she isn't expected to appear in court.The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan and other investigators also are reportedly investigating Trump's 2017 inaugural committee, looking to establish whether it may have broken the law by, among other ways, raising money from foreigners.Investigators also may continue looking into other broad areas, including lobbyists and advocates who worked on behalf of Ukraine's government but didn't report that appropriately.Several people and at least one big law firm have been swept into the Russia imbroglio over problems with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. [...]Democratic members in the House, meanwhile, are pursuing a number of investigative avenues with their majority control of the Judiciary, oversight and intelligence committees.Oversight committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., fired a blast of requests for information from a number of people and entities in early March. He wants to know more about everything from the White House's protocols on handling security clearances to the Trump Organization's business practices to the conduct of Trump's sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., meanwhile, presides over the committee that would have the responsibility of introducing articles of impeachment against Trump.Nadler has said he believes there's already evidence that Trump committed acts that may rise to the level of impeachment, especially what Nadler has called potential obstruction of justice.
Posted by orrinj at 3:52 AM
JUST A MATTER OF AESTHETICS:
Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says: In conversation, the 2019 Templeton Prize winner does not pull punches on the limits of science, the value of humility and the irrationality of nonbelief (Lee Billings, March 20, 2019, Scientific American)
Why are you against atheism?I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It's a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. "I don't believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don't believe." Period. It's a declaration. But in science we don't really do declarations. We say, "Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that." And so an agnostic would say, look, I have no evidence for God or any kind of god (What god, first of all? The Maori gods, or the Jewish or Christian or Muslim God? Which god is that?) But on the other hand, an agnostic would acknowledge no right to make a final statement about something he or she doesn't know about. "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," and all that. This positions me very much against all of the "New Atheist" guys--even though I want my message to be respectful of people's beliefs and reasoning, which might be community-based, or dignity-based, and so on. And I think obviously the Templeton Foundation likes all of this, because this is part of an emerging conversation. It's not just me; it's also my colleague the astrophysicist Adam Frank, and a bunch of others, talking more and more about the relation between science and spirituality.So, a message of humility, open-mindedness and tolerance. Other than in discussions of God, where else do you see the most urgent need for this ethos?You know, I'm a "Rare Earth" kind of guy. I think our situation may be rather special, on a planetary or even galactic scale. So when people talk about Copernicus and Copernicanism--the 'principle of mediocrity' that states we should expect to be average and typical, I say, "You know what? It's time to get beyond that." When you look out there at the other planets (and the exoplanets that we can make some sense of), when you look at the history of life on Earth, you will realize this place called Earth is absolutely amazing. And maybe, yes, there are others out there, possibly--who knows, we certainly expect so--but right now what we know is that we have this world, and we are these amazing molecular machines capable of self-awareness, and all that makes us very special indeed. And we know for a fact that there will be no other humans in the universe; there may be some humanoids somewhere out there, but we are unique products of our single, small planet's long history.The point is, to understand modern science within this framework is to put humanity back into kind of a moral center of the universe, in which we have the moral duty to preserve this planet and its life with everything that we've got, because we understand how rare this whole game is and that for all practical purposes we are alone. For now, anyways. We have to do this! This is a message that I hope will resonate with lots of people, because to me what we really need right now in this increasingly divisive world is a new unifying myth. I mean "myth" as a story that defines a culture. So, what is the myth that will define the culture of the 21st century? It has to be a myth of our species, not about any particular belief system or political party. How can we possibly do that? Well, we can do that using astronomy, using what we have learned from other worlds, to position ourselves and say, "Look, folks, this is not about tribal allegiance, this is about us as a species on a very specific planet that will go on with us--or without us." I think you know this message well.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERSTATE DEFLATION:
NOTHING FAILS LIKE SUCCESS (Dwight R. Lee, 3/20/19, Intercollegiate Review)
Ironically, one reason for the problem of obesity is that most agricultural jobs have been eliminated in response to market incentives. Private-sector entrepreneurs and firms have found profit in developing ways to grow more food at less cost by substituting capital and chemicals for farm labor. The result is more food grown on less land by fewer workers. Tens of millions of agricultural workers have been released to innovate new products, improve old products, and expand the production of both in jobs that are far more interesting, safe, and productive than the ones they replaced. Increasing agricultural productivity, along with the general increase in wealth, clearly allowed people to purchase more calories in fresher, more nutritious, and tastier foods for steadily decreasing amounts of labor.Possibly even more important than the declining cost of purchasing food has been the declining cost of converting it into tasty meals. Preparing foods for consumption used to be a laborious and time-consuming chore, one performed primarily by women. As market incentives generated technological advances and more productive employment opportunities for women, businesses found it increasingly attractive to introduce products and services that reduced the time and drudgery of preparing meals in the home, as well as doing household chores in general. Shopping for food became more convenient as grocery stores became bigger with larger varieties of food, as well as many other household products, under one roof. Appliances for storing and cooking foods became bigger, less troublesome (self-defrosting refrigerators), and faster (microwave ovens). A larger variety of prepared foods are now available for home consumption. And eating out, which used to be a luxury, is now a common occurrence, with options available for every taste and budget.Given that people evolved to avoid starvation, not obesity, it is difficult for many of us to avoid gaining weight when surrounded by an abundance of convenient, low-cost, and tasty food. Our natural response when food is available is to store as many calories in our fat cells as possible to sustain us until the next successful hunt. Of course, the next successful "hunt" almost always occurs three times a day, not to mention those trips to a vending machine. Couple this with the sedentary jobs that economic progress has allowed us to substitute for physically demanding ones, and it is hardly surprising that a large percentage of the population has become overweight or obese.Until quite recently, being significantly overweight was considered a personal problem, if a problem at all. An overweight adult was assumed competent to evaluate the personal costs and benefits of eating more than was consistent with his recommended weight, and he could alter (or not alter) caloric intake accordingly. I remember a talk in the 1970s at the University of Colorado by Israel Kirzner in which he pointed out that the market is often criticized for giving people what they want. Kirzner defended the market against this criticism by saying it is analogous to blaming the waiter for obesity. I was impressed at the time with how effective this argument was. I fear it would be less effective today.Increasingly it is not those who are overweight who are seen as responsible for their condition. They are more likely to be considered the victims of "waiters" in the form of those who are responding to consumer demand by making more and tastier food conveniently available at ever-lower real prices. Instead of seeing this as a significant victory in the battle against poverty and hunger, we hear from trial lawyers, health officials, and other politically influential activists that it is a national crisis requiring immediate government action. [...]MEDICAL CAREUnfortunately, the obesity "crisis" is only one of many examples of the success of markets and freedom being widely, and effectively, portrayed as failures demanding more government controls over our economic choices. Consider the innovations in medical care that have extended our lives and improved their quality into the older ages we are now more likely to achieve. This is clearly a triumph of the innovation and entrepreneurship made possible by the incentives and freedom of market economies--an improvement in our well-being over the last century that is unprecedented in human history and which holds out the promise of continued improvement. But the public hears much more about problems resulting from this triumph than about its enormous benefits. The constant refrain is that the high cost of medical care is a failure of markets, which has become a serious problem--indeed, another national crisis--demanding a government remedy.In fact, the cost of medical care is greatly overstated. Instead of increasing the cost of medical care, improvements in medical technologies have actually reduced that cost and reduced it considerably. In the 1960s the cost of heart-bypass surgery needed to save your life was infinite--unavailable at any price. The same is true of many other procedures, medicines, and diagnostic equipment that improve and prolong the lives of untold millions today, including the poor. People are confusing the increasing amount being spent on medical care with the costs of that care when claiming that medical costs are higher today than ever. People are spending more on medical care because the success of markets and freedom has increased their wealth and made medical care worth more than ever. No sensible person would argue that transportation costs are higher now than ever, even though we spend a far higher percentage of our income on transportation than in the past. The reason we are spending more is that transportation costs have decreased so much over the past century that today almost everyone in market-based economies can routinely afford travel options that were available to only the very rich a few decades ago, and available to no one a little over a hundred years ago, with all those options safer, faster, and more reliable than ever before.
March 22, 2019
Posted by orrinj at 2:45 PM
BDS IS JEWISH, JUST NOT ZIONIST:
A Jewish case for Brown Divest (EVAN LEHMANN, SAM FROLICHSTEIN-APPEL, NOAH BYCK MLYN and BRIAN SOLOMON, March 20, 2019, Brown daily Herald)
Next month, we will celebrate Passover, commemorating the exodus from Mitzrayim and the bondage we experienced there. The Torah reads, "and you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Mitzrayim" (Exodus 23:9). If we're committed to the Torah's call for tikkun olam (repairing the world), to ger toshav (treating strangers as neighbors) and to chesed (loving-kindness), these values must extend to Palestinians.Jews throughout history have mobilized to stand in solidarity with other oppressed peoples. From the Jewish Labor Bund in 19th century Europe to Jewish students and clergy who participated in the Freedom Rides in the 1960s, progressive Jews have often seen their history of marginalization and oppression as reason to band together with other vulnerable groups, rather than isolate themselves or ally with state violence. While some argue that Israel's aggression toward Palestinians is necessary in order to protect Jews both in the nation and elsewhere, we resist cynical, zero-sum calculations of Jewish safety that lead to isolation -- and insist that we find the greatest safety in solidarity with oppressed people around the world.We are also compelled to speak out against Israel because Israel claims to speak for us. On March 11, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu stated that "Israel is the national state, not for all of its people, but for Jews alone." It is this rhetoric that compels us, as Jews, to act. We refuse to be spoken for by a nation-state whose policies too often rest on dispossession, displacement and violence against Palestinian people.While we are critical of the state of Israel and the policies his government pursues, we also implore all students to think deeply about how criticism of Israel can, and sometimes does, intersect with anti-Semitism. For example, claims that Israel's oppressive policies are inherently tied to its Jewish character are anti-Semitic. However, calls for divestment and critiques of Israel and its policies are not inherently anti-Semitic. As Jewish students, we stand both resolutely in support of Brown Divest and against anti-Semitism in all of its forms. We believe that our opposition to human rights abuses and our abhorrence of religious persecution and bigotry can coexist.
Posted by orrinj at 2:31 PM
THE MOST BENIGN EXPLANATION IS KOMPROMAT:
Trump unexpectedly cancels new sanctions on North Korea (tHE wEEK, 3/22/19)
The Treasury Department on Thursday said sanctions would be imposed on two Chinese shipping companies that it said were helping North Korea evade international sanctions, as reported by The New York Times and CNN. National Security Adviser John Bolton said that "everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea's sanctions evasion."But Trump on Friday suddenly and unexpectedly announced that "additional large scale sanctions" previously announced by the Treasury Department would be withdrawn.
Posted by orrinj at 2:27 PM
DUDES, YOU'RE MESSING WITH THE RIGHT'S GOSPEL...:
Fox News has reportedly banned Sebastian Gorka from its hard news shows (The Week, 3/22/19)
[M]ediaite reports that Fox News has banned Gorka from appearing on its hard news shows; The Daily Beast previously reported in August that Gorka was under what it called a "soft ban" on the news side. He's not the only one: Mediaite also writes that reporter Sara Carter isn't allowed to appear on the news shows anymore even though she's a current Fox News contributor. Fox reportedly keeps asking Hannity not to introduce her as an investigative reporter since her "reporting is not vetted" and it "passes none of the network's editorial guidelines," Mediaite writes, but he keeps doing so anyway.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM
Organisers for the Headscarf for Harmony initiative have called on people to wear headscarves in solidarity with the Muslim community following the Christchurch mosque shootings.[...]The movement calls on people to wear headscarves on Friday 22 March, a week on from the Christchurch twin mosque shootings that killed 50 people.Headscarves are also being worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around a site in Christchurch holding communal prayers.
March 21, 2019
Posted by orrinj at 9:11 PM
RED HAT TO ORANGE JUMPSUIT:
MAGABomber Pleads Guilty to Sending Explosives by Mail to Trump Critics (Alberto Luperon, March 21st, 2019, lAW & cRIME)
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, the Florida man known as the MAGAbomber, pleaded guilty on Thursday to sending bombs to perceived enemies of President Donald Trump.Targets included former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, actor Robert de Niro, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, and former President Barack Obama, prosecutors say. The defendant's social media activity showed he was a huge Trump fan. He seemed to subscribe to conspiracy theories that teenage gun control advocate David Hogg was a "paid protester." He also endorsed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Soros.Most targets were Democratic politicians, but all were perceived to be Trump critics.
Posted by orrinj at 9:08 PM
LOCK HER UP, EH?:
Cummings demands docs on Kushner's alleged use of encrypted app for official business (ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY 03/21/2019, pOLITICO)
House Democrats are raising new concerns about what they say is recently revealed information from Jared Kushner's attorney indicating that the senior White House aide has been relying on encrypted messaging service WhatsApp and his personal email account to conduct official business.
Posted by orrinj at 8:55 PM
Marine Corps commandant says deploying troops to the border poses 'unacceptable risk' (MOLLY O'TOOLE, MAR 21, 2019, LA Times)
In any normal administration it would be problematic that the armed services have such open contempt for the commander-in-chief and he for men who serve.Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, center, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and Undersecretary of Defense David Norquist, right, appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Michael Reynolds / EPA-Shutterstock)The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president's emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed "unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency."In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment along the border that President Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases.The border deployment and funding transfers, as well as recovery costs from hurricanes Florence and Michael, new housing allowances and civilian pay raises, are taking a toll on combat readiness, Neller wrote to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. [...]"It's pretty unusual for the commandant to be raising concerns that... a top political priority for the president is undermining the ability of the Marine Corps to do the training they need," said Mandy Smithberger, a defense expert at the Project for Government Oversight, a nonpartisan independent watchdog group."It looks like from Commandant Neller's perspective, he does think these policies are undermining readiness," she added."This is a pretty strongly worded memo," said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.
Posted by orrinj at 4:41 PM
ALWAYS BET ON THE dEEP sTATE:
Judge Blocks Wisconsin Republicans' Power Grab, Rules "Extraordinary Session" Convened Illegally (MARK JOSEPH STERN, MARCH 21, 2019, Slate)
Shortly after Wisconsin voters replaced Republican Gov. Scott Walker with Democrat Tony Evers in 2018, GOP lawmakers scrambled to strip the incoming governor of power. In a special session, Republicans revoked Evers' ability to make dozens of appointments throughout the executive branch, reducing his authority over state commissions. They hobbled incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul's ability to represent the state in litigation. And they slashed early voting across the state in violation of a federal court order. Walker approved the power grab weeks before leaving office.On Thursday, Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess blocked every single law the Republican legislature passed in late 2018. In his ruling, Niess held that the sessions was convened in violation of the state constitution, rendering the bills it produced unlawful and void. The decision vacates 82 of Walker's last-minute appointments, restores Evers' oversight over the executive branch, and allows Kaul to represent Wisconsin in court.