August 19, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:56 AM


MLB 1994 strike anniversary: Montreal Expos' greatest season vanished overnight (MIKE DIGIOVANNA, AUG. 11, 2019, LA Times)

It was a feel-good story with no ending, a 4½-month joy ride with no destination. Baseball's last work stoppage robbed the Montreal Expos of their best chance of winning a World Series in 1994, and the what-ifs and what-might-have-beens haunt Kevin Malone to this day.

"When I think about it, I can really feel that twinge in my stomach, that emptiness, that kind of sick feeling," Malone said as he recalled the 1994 season, his first as Montreal's general manager.

"It's obviously not as intense as it was 25 years ago, but it's still there. It's almost like a scar that won't go away, and by touching it, I can remember certain things about the season."

The Expos, despite a $19-million payroll that ranked 27th out of 28 teams, had a 74-40 record -- the best mark in baseball -- and a six-game lead over Atlanta in the National League East when players walked off the job Aug. 12, 1994.

Montreal won 20 of its last 23 games before the strike. A dynamic team composed mostly of stars in their prime and promising youngsters, the Felipe Alou-managed Expos seemed poised not only for a deep October run in 1994, but also for a lengthy run as pennant contenders.

A balanced lineup featured power and speed, with Marquis Grissom (.288, 96 runs, 36 stolen bases) setting the table for Moises Alou (.339, .989 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 22 homers, 78 RBIs), Larry Walker (.322, .981 OPS, 19 homers, 44 doubles, 86 RBIs) and Wil Cordero (.294, .853 OPS, 15 homers, 30 doubles, 63 RBIs).

A stout rotation was led by veteran right-hander Ken Hill (16-5, 3.32 ERA), 22-year-old right-hander and budding Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (11-5, 3.42 ERA) and veteran left-hander Jeff Fassero (8-6, 2.99 ERA).
A lock-down bullpen featured closer John Wetteland (2.83 ERA, 25 saves) and setup men Mel Rojas and Jeff Shaw, with Gil Heredia and Tim Scott providing solid middle relief.

"We could hit home runs and manufacture runs, we were athletic, we played good defense and had good pitching," Malone said. "We had so many different weapons and could win in so many different ways.

Posted by orrinj at 12:47 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Life And Death Of An Instafish: What one funny-looking fish taught us about evolution, the internet, and the monsters we create (MIRANDA COLLINGE, 19/07/2019, Esquire)

It is not known exactly when humans started inventing animals, but the origins of the practice are certainly ancient. A painting on the tomb of the wealthy Egyptian official Nebamun, dating from 1350BC, once in Thebes and now in The British Museum, seems to show a chariot drawn by two mules: a cross between a male donkey and a female horse (although they might also be examples of the unsurprisingly lesser-known hinny: a female donkey mated with a male horse). In 1548, the Ming dynasty scholar Lang Ying described the people of Hangzhou exploiting a natural colour mutation in the crucian carp to breed dazzling "fire fish", or goldfish, for profit. Charles Darwin, in On the Origin of Species, quotes an historian from the court of Akbar the Great in India in the 17th century, where the pigeon-fancying monarch, "by crossing the breeds, which method was never practised before, has improved them astonishingly."

Later in his book, Darwin makes a pointed note. "One of the most remarkable features in our domesticated races," he writes, "is that we see in them adaptation, not indeed to the animal's or plant's own good, but to man's use or fancy". Fish in particular have a history of being tinkered with for our viewing pleasure. Koi carp are descended from the black carp that were originally brought from China to Japan in 200BC, where by the 19th century rice farmers were selectively breeding and cross-breeding specimens with particularly colourful scales. The Siamese fighting fish, which appears in the wild as dull greenish-brown with short fins, has been selectively bred in captivity in astonishing varieties of purple, red, blue, orange and green, with tails that billow around them like matadors' capes.

August 18, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 4:18 AM


An Anti-Trump Landslide? (ROD DREHER, August 17, 2019, American Conservative)

The real concern is the US Senate. Currently, the GOP holds a six-seat majority (if you count the two Independent senators, who caucus with Democrats, as Democrats). Thirty-four seats are up in 2020. According to this analysis, at this point, 18 of them are in play, and four of those 18 are toss-ups. Only one of those four toss-ups -- Doug Jones in Alabama -- is a Democrat. Jones will probably lose no matter what -- Alabama went for Trump by 30 points, and Jones only won because his GOP opponent was creepy Roy Moore.

An anti-Trump landslide at the top of the ticket could wash the GOP Senate majority away. We would then have a Democratic president and Congress -- and they would be in a score-settling mood.

One more time: anything could happen between now and Election Day 2020. But a recession, which is growing more likely by the day, would be something extremely hard for Trump to overcome. The new Fox poll has Trump at 56 percent unfavorable, with only 42 percent favorable -- and this is in good economic times.

Easy to forget, because it's been so long, but in a blowout the GOP will lose safe Senate seats too, no matter who's running for them: see under Reagan babies.

Posted by orrinj at 2:33 AM


Posted by orrinj at 2:04 AM


Israel's 'PR Masada' over Omar and Tlaib violates Zionism (Jeffrey K. Salkin, 8/17/19, RNS) 

Their visit could help destroy Israel? Seriously? Are we living in a comic book universe, in which these women have previously unknown superpowers that would allow them to destroy a sovereign state?

Rather, let us ask ourselves: how would classic Zionism deal with this issue?

Whatever else Zionism is, it is about a historically disempowered people who have empowered themselves to make their own decisions, to build their land, and to defend themselves.

At the first Zionist Congress in 1897, Max Nordau, the prophet of "muscular Judaism," proclaimed:

"The emancipated Jew is insecure in his relations with his fellow man, timid with strangers, and suspicious even of the secret feelings of his friends. His best powers are dissipated in suppressing and destroying, or at least in the difficult task of concealing his true character...He has become a cripple within, and a counterfeit person without, so that like everything unreal, he is ridiculous and hateful to all men of high standards.

This was Nordau's critique of exile.

The Jew was emancipated, yes - socially and culturally.

But galut, the diaspora, had created within us a timidity, a suspicion of the other, a suppression of our true identity.

Nordau is turning over in his grave.

How timid Israel looks. How (uselessly) suspicious Israel looks. How cringing and hapless and hopeless we look - like shtetl Jews waiting for the next (diplomatic) pogrom.

Posted by orrinj at 1:49 AM


Trump's large union crowd at Shell was given the option of not showing up -- and not getting paid (Anya Litvak, 8/18/19, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The choice for thousands of union workers at Royal Dutch Shell's petrochemical plant in Beaver County was clear Tuesday: Either stand in a giant hall waiting for President Donald Trump to speak or take the day off with no pay.

"Your attendance is not mandatory," said the rules that one contractor relayed to employees, summarizing points from a memo that Shell sent to union leaders a day ahead of the visit to the $6 billion construction site. But only those who showed up at 7 a.m., scanned their ID cards, and prepared to stand for hours -- through lunch but without lunch -- would be paid.

"NO SCAN, NO PAY," a supervisor for that contractor wrote. [...]

The contractor's talking points, preparing his workers for the event read:

"No yelling, shouting, protesting or anything viewed as resistance will be tolerated at the event. An underlying theme of the event is to promote good will from the unions. Your building trades leaders and jobs stewards have agreed to this."

Posted by orrinj at 1:27 AM


Listening to "Four Quartets" (Dwight Longenecker, August 17th, 2019, Imaginative Quartets)

The quartets are highly personal, uniquely fashioned religious poetry. Therefore, there are three main keys to unlock Four Quartets: Eliot's biography, his poetic technique, and his spirituality.

To take them in reverse order, Eliot was, at heart, a contemplative. Highly introverted and with a mystical bent, he was a hermit in a three-piece suit. In her definitive biographies of Eliot, Lyndall Gordon noted that even in his undergraduate years at Harvard he was reading the great spiritual authorities: the Bhagavad Gita, St. John of the Cross, the metaphysical poets, Julian of Norwich, and the desert fathers.

Once when he was living a reclusive life with John Hayward, someone asked the cleaning lady what the great man was like. She thought they meant Hayward, but when the inquirer specified Eliot she said, "Oh! You mean the holy one!"

Eliot's contemplative spirituality is therefore the first key to understanding the poems. He works hard to put into words the dynamic and charge of the contemplative life--something which is all the more difficult because contemplation is, by definition, an experience beyond words. Once one understands that Eliot is wrestling with the challenge of expressing the experience of the wordless with words, one will begin to move toward the solution of the puzzle.

This wordless realm into which Eliot takes us is the region of dreams, the numinous, the collective unconscious; it is the experience of the mysterium tremendum et fascinans, to use the famous phrase of Rudolph Otto. The contemplative moves beyond the physical world, consciousness, the words, and concepts used to order and make sense of that world. He moves into a realm that is not less sensate, logical, and conscious but more sensate, logical, and conscious.

This process has been outlined by the spiritual masters, but the greatest study was by the English theologian Evelyn Underhill in her great book, Mysticism. Her work was an important influence on Eliot as was The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James--a powerful voice during Eliot's time at Harvard.

Once we understand that Eliot is taking us into the realm of the contemplative, his puzzling language can be forgiven. If we are not clear on the exact meaning of every word, that is the poet's intention. We are on the threshold of a realm where images and symbols prevail, and images and symbols are, by their nature, imprecise, multi-layered, mobile, and ambiguous.

Eliot would like us to experience the emotional bewilderment we might have when waking and being puzzled and disoriented by a disturbing dream. He wishes us to plunge into the experience instead of simply pondering the meaning. He takes us to the "edge of grimpen where there is no foothold," and if we cannot specifically define what a "grimpen" is, we know by the chill in our heart and the tremor of bewilderment and fear what he is talking about.

It is the edge of a grimpen where there is no foothold.

Posted by orrinj at 12:38 AM


I'm a rabbi, and I understand Israel is not a democracy (Rabbi Alissa Wise, 8/16/19, (RNS)

It's tempting to see these denials as yet another sign that Israeli democracy is worsening, that the Netanyahu administration is pulling the country ever more to the right. This would be a mistake. The truth is that before Trump, and before Netanyahu, Israel banned Palestinians from travel, putting a true stranglehold on their freedom of movement.

No matter what we might have been told, Israel is not a democracy. The fact is, Israel rules over both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, but only Jews are given full rights.

Since 1967, Israel has imposed severe and debilitating restrictions on the movement of Palestinians inside the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Since 2006, Israel has imposed a suffocating and illegal siege and naval blockade of Gaza, amounting to collective punishment of the territory's population of 1.8 million people, which is a war crime.

The Israeli separation wall near the West Bank town of Bethlehem on June 15, 2016. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

Beginning in 2002, Israel built a wall around and within the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a move that has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. The wall prevents Palestinians from traveling freely. In many cases, the wall cuts Palestinians off from their farmland and separates them from schools, houses of worship, workplaces and family and friends. In this way, Israel controls Palestinians' access to the world and to their families.

Palestinians are routinely forced to beg for permission to access their homeland and families -- just as Rep. Tlaib was forced to do, before ultimately deciding that, "Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me -- it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice."

Those who insist that Israel is a democracy -- "the only democracy in the Middle East" has been a foundational and ubiquitous mantra for its supporters -- willfully ignore the rights of Palestinians. The myth of Israeli democracy is an essential part of the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship: No self-respecting American would allow themselves or their country to be associated with a nation that is authoritarian, discriminatory, or oppressive, right? But if we believe in democracy, we must believe in it for everyone.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


My Fellow Republicans Must Stand Against the Alt-Right Virus Infecting America (DAVID FRENCH, AUGUST 8, 2019, TIME)

The so-called alt-right seeks to fundamentally alter the American view of immigration, ethnicity and nationality. White nationalists view ethnicity as inseparable from culture, to such an extent that they claim immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia are simply incapable of assimilating into Western civilization, and that their inclusion will ultimately destroy America itself.

They argue that America is facing a "white genocide," that a "great replacement" is under way. In their view, white Western culture faces extinction at the hands of black and brown immigrants, a class of people who are typically cast as sick, dirty and violent, compared to the white guardians of Western civilization.

So, yes, the "alt-right" was thrilled by Trump's campaign rhetoric, and it barraged Trump critics with threats and harassment. But its influence extended well beyond online trolling and real-world intimidation. Steve Bannon, Trump's campaign CEO, called the website he ran, Breitbart .com, the "platform for the alt right." At its height in 2016 and early 2017, Breitbart was one of the most influential websites on the right, frequently ranking second in web traffic only to Fox News.

Breitbart relentlessly pushed "alt-right" themes into the national discourse. At one point, it had a "black crime" tag on its site, and it published an extensive "guide" to the so-called alt-right that miscast it as "young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies." "Alt-right" words like cuckservative or cuck entered the lexicon. The term refers to pornography in which white men watch black men have sex with their wives.

As Breitbart's traffic declined following the departure of Bannon, other right-wing sites picked up the torch. Even now, you'll find constant attacks on the "cucks" who dissent from Trump's presidency or policies. Just last month, a Trumpist website called American Greatness published a poem called a "Cuck Elegy," aimed at me, that refers to immigrants as "parasites." Influential and respected conservatives write for that site.

Over the past few years, "alt-right" themes have also spread to Fox News, which has hosted guests who've spread hysterical falsehoods about immigrants, including the pure fiction that they could introduce smallpox-a disease that was eradicated decades ago-into the U.S. Another guest discussed an extraordinarily racist book called The Camp of the Saints, which depicts Indian immigrants in the most vicious ways, as having "predicted what's happening."

And we cannot forget that Trump's repeated claim that illegal immigrants represent an "invasion" also echoes "alt-right" themes, even if unwittingly.

These are but a few examples of the injection of white nationalist ideas and themes into our political and cultural discourse. To be clear, the vast majority of conservative or right-leaning Americans are not racist, hate racism, and utterly reject the ideology and language of white nationalism. Still, the "alt-right" has achieved remarkable success in influencing our national debate. And they do it, in part, by casting themselves as fearless warriors against political correctness, telling the truths that only "the left" won't like. This perception of influence gives radicals a sense of momentum and energy.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


In U2's 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,' A Restless Search For Meaning (Elizabeth Blair , 7/26/19. NPR: All Things Considered)

Three of the members of U2 -- Bono, guitarist The Edge and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. -- were members of a Christian fellowship called Shalom. For The Edge and Bono, their faith seemed at odds with rock 'n' roll: They felt they should be doing something more meaningful with their lives than playing music. In an interview with presenter Gay Byrne for the Irish broadcaster RTE, Bono said that just as the band was on the brink of major success, they went to tell their manager they wanted to quit. He was a no-nonsense type named Paul McGuinness.

"And we say, 'Paul, we're done. We actually want to do something useful with our life, and maybe rock 'n' roll isn't it,' " Bono recounted. "And he's like, 'Oh, so God tells you to do this?' And we said, 'No, not exactly, but it's very deeply convicted here.' He said, 'Would you mind speaking to God about the commitments I've made on your behalf to do another tour?' "

They stayed. Bono went on to say their songs are "prayers of a kind."

Theologian Sarah Dylan Breuer agrees. In the early 2000s, she founded a worship service called the U2charist -- as in U2 plus Eucharist -- that incorporates the band's songs, played by local musicians. Breuer says "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" works because it's an expression of both spiritual joy and disappointment.

"A lot of the contemporary music that's written for worship in Christian circles can be this kind of relentlessly 'I totally love God with all my being, and everything's going to be great.' And that's really not most people's lived experience day to day," she says. But Breuer adds that some members of the clergy believed a few of the verses were inappropriate for the service. For example:

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
And it burned like fire

"Some people said, basically, that human desire that's obviously sexual has no place in the service," she explains. "Some people were OK with it, but wanted to allegorize it, and said it's completely not about human beings at all -- it's only desire for God."

Bono told Rolling Stone "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" is "an anthem of doubt more than faith." Joshua Rothman, a writer for The New Yorker, hears something else: "It's a song that celebrates wanting."

In a 2014 piece called "The Church of U2," Rothman outlined the case for this song as a potent contemporary hymn, partly because of the uncertainty expressed in Bono's lyrics. "It's a song about searching for meaning or transcendence," he says. "And to me, the most interesting thing about it is that you don't find it. It's about the search."

Meanwhile, Jon Pareles, chief pop critic for The New York Times, believes much of the song's power comes from the way Bono lingers on one word: "still."

"The genius of the chorus is in its first two words," Pareles says. "There's the leap from 'I still' and 'haven't found.' That 'still' emphasized in the melody tells you he's been looking for a long time. It's a simple thing. But it's a profound thing."

August 17, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 4:47 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:16 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:37 PM


Taiwan's 'Silk Road of Democracy' :A DPP meeting with the Dalai Lama signals new regional cooperation among groups threatened by Chinese Communist Party. (Wen Lii, August 16, 2019, The Diplomat)
Last month, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sent a delegation to visit His Holiness the Dalai Lama and officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala, India. Led by DPP Secretary-General Luo Wen-jia, the meetings not only signified closer bilateral cooperation between Taiwan and Tibetans, but also displayed Taiwan's growing commitment to strengthening multilateral ties among groups threatened by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Systematic acts of state violence toward Uyghurs and Hong Kongers also highlight the importance of international support.

The notion of multilateral cooperation is embodied by emerging concepts proposed by the DPP following the trip to Dharamshala, including the "Silk Road of Democracy" (SRD) and "Democratic Arc," which seek to forge stronger connections among Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Uyghurs, as well as Chinese supporters of democracy within the country and overseas.

...Donald stands with Xi against one.
Posted by orrinj at 1:30 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:23 PM


Sudanese protesters sign final power-sharing deal with army (Samy Magdy, 8/17/19, Associated Press)

The signing capped weeks of tortuous negotiations between the military and protest leaders. Earlier this month, the two sides initialed a constitutional document in the wake of international pressure and amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite civil war.

Ethiopia and the African Union co-led mediation efforts between the military and protesters, and many regional leaders and international envoys attended Saturday's ceremony, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Attendees in the Friendship Hall where the ceremony took place received Ahmed with cheering chants.

Sudanese celebrated in Khartoum and elsewhere across the country. Videos posted online showed people celebrating in the streets in Darfur and the eastern province of Kassala.

Posted by orrinj at 1:11 PM


Signs of recession worry Trump ahead of 2020 (JOSH BOAK and JONATHAN LEMIRE, 8/16/19, AP) 

Trump has taken to blaming others for the recession fears, mostly the Federal Reserve, which he is pushing for further interest rate cuts. Yet much of the uncertainty in the markets stems from his own escalation of a trade war with China, as well as weakened economies in key countries around the world.

President Donald Trump on Thursday sought to reassure his supporters about the state of the US economy despite stock market volatility and told rallygoers in New Hampshire that their financial security depends on his reelection. (Aug. 16)
Some of Trump's closest advisers have urged him to lower the temperature of the trade dispute, fearing that further tariffs would only hurt American consumers and rattle the markets further. The president blinked once this week, delaying a set of tariffs in an effort to save Christmas sales.

Aides acknowledge it is unclear what steps the White House could take to stop a downturn. 

Immigration amnesty and reform, drop all US tariffs, beg to get back into TPP.

Posted by orrinj at 1:07 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:02 PM

THE 4TH "R":

Nation-state law to be included in Israeli high school curriculum - report (Times of Israel, 16 August 2019)

"Students will internalize the vision for the country, which includes Israel being the state of the Jewish people," the Education Ministry said in its directive, according to the TV report.

The passage of the quasi-constitutional nation-state law last year enshrined Israel as the exclusive nation-state of the Jewish people, drawing protests from Druze and Arab minorities who said the legislation created official discrimination between Jews and non-Jews.

Posted by orrinj at 12:58 PM


Scaramucci says Trump 'has declining mental faculties.' Trump's latest rally bolsters that case. (Peter Weber, August 16, 2019, The Week)

This is how The New York Times summarized President Trump's campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday night: "Typically rambling, veering on and off script seemingly at random over an hour and a half, he repeated points he had already made earlier in the evening as if he did not remember already making them." And this is how Anthony Scaramucci, Trump's short-lived communications director and newly minted critic, described Trump to Vanity Fair's William Cohan in an interview published early Friday:

I think the guy is losing it, mentally. He has declining mental faculties; he's becoming more petulant; he's becoming more impetuous. Okay, you see just by the way he's sweating, his body's not doing well. It's obviously not a guy that takes care of himself, right? ... This is an observational objective thing: the guy's nuts. We've gotta defeat him. Everybody in the Republican Party knows it. They don't want to lose their mantle of power and their mantle of leadership, so let's primary the guy. [Anthony Scaramucci to Vanity Fair]

The Mooch has some nice things to say about Trump's policies, and some sharply negative thoughts on Trump's tariffs and tweets. But the issue that finally pushed him off the "Trump train," Scaramucci said, "was the racism -- full-blown racism." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:33 PM


The day Netanyahu helped anti-Israel Democrats gain resonance and credibility (Eric Cortellessa, 8/17/19, Times of Israel)

As a consequence, pro-Israel activists in Washington say, the case for traditionally supportive postures on the Jewish state will henceforth be more difficult to make. In other words, Netanyahu just gave anti-Israel activists in America one of the biggest boosts they could possibly imagine.

"The political debate over Israel in this country is going to get more robust and more wide open," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, who heads the influential left-wing advocacy group J Street. "People who have serious criticism of what the [Israeli] government is doing are going to have the freedom to say what they want. There will be less fear of saying these things."

"The unintended consequences of Netanyahu's decision," he went on, "is that he has opened it up for critics to push for ideas in the policy space that they couldn't before."

Indeed, on Friday, one of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates amplified an idea that has long been discussed in progressive circles but has generally been a taboo subject for elected political leaders.

"If Israel doesn't want members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a firsthand look at what's going on," said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, "maybe he can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel."

Tweeted Omar on Friday: "As many of my colleagues have stated in the last 24 hours, we give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year. This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region, and the 'only democracy' in the Middle East.

"Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy. We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians." [...]

Amanda Berman, who heads the Zioness movement, argued that most progressive Americans won't totally give up on Israel, despite Netanyahu's premiership, the same way they won't totally give up on America, despite Trump's leadership.

"We support America, which has taken an authoritarian direction that is decidedly undemocratic right now," she said. "The problem with Israel is, criticism often becomes a referendum on Israel's right to exist. And that's not the direction the conversation takes with any other country when we criticize its policies.

"But one of the few upsides this week is that the entire community, with a couple of notable outliers, came down with the same message: We don't support this policy [of banning critical, would-be visiting legislators], but we still support the state of Israel."

That said, there will now be more oxygen for policy ideas to be advanced that rethink the nature of the US-Israel relationship, including by exerting more pressure on Israel to change its behavior if it wants to enjoy the same level of friendship from Washington.

Posted by orrinj at 12:30 AM


The Second-Amendment Case for Gun Control (Saul Cornell, Aug. 4th, 2019, New Republic)

[J]efferson's guns were at the ready when hunting on his lands, but he was equally adamant that his firearm needed to be firmly secured when traveling on the public roads. A popular eighteenth-century American legal text likewise made it clear that armed travel in places where large numbers of people congregated was a crime under common law. What modern Republicans and most gun rights advocates have forgotten is that the right to bear arms was always weighed against another right the Founders esteemed highly: the peace.

The concept of the peace has been all but lost to modern Americans, who typically think about liberty almost exclusively in negative terms. It is relatively easy to conceptualize liberty as a limit on government overreach, but it is much harder for contemporary Americans to understand the importance of positive conceptions of liberty, including the right to enjoy the peace. Here is how one early American law book from the era of the Second Amendment described this concept: "the term peace, denotes the condition of the body politic in which no person suffers, or has just cause to fear any injury." The primary enforcers and conservators of the peace in both England and early America were local justices of the peace. These individuals, typically prominent and respected men in the local community, had broad and far-reaching powers that included the ability to preemptively disarm anyone who posed a potential threat to the peace--a type of power that reformers are now trying to revive, in vastly diluted form, by adopting red-flag gun legislation.

So seen in the broader sweep of America's social and legal history, today's stilted gun debate reflects an impoverishment of our moral and political imagination. We have maintained and valorized the negative freedom at the core of the gun lobby's version of the Second Amendment, but lost the countervailing positive vision of freedom and the related ideas of local and communal responsibility that were essential to the preservation of the peace. The world that gave us the Second Amendment was populated by people who lived in a largely rural society in small communities. For them, keeping the peace meant forms of policing anchored in their face-to-face local communities. Modern notions of privacy, including a right to acquire guns and stockpile weapons, free from government's prying eyes, were nonexistent. In fact, the opposite was typically the case: government kept very close tabs on citizens who had guns and fined them if they were not kept properly stored and in good working order. The great irony that modern champions of the Second Amendment have never appreciated is that adhering to the Founders' actual vision of the Second Amendment would mean much more extensive and intrusive regulation of guns, not less. If we wanted to honor the true understanding of the Second Amendment, we would begin by requiring gun registration and mandatory firearms training for all gun owners.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


El Paso, the President, and the "Invaders" (ASHLEEN MENCHACA-BAGNULO, 8/11/19, Public Discourse)

[T]rump and his supporters have more in common with Crusius than many would like to admit. They can only see the Latino as the foreign, and the dangerous. The president has relied on the language of onslaughts and invasions in his own speech, and he laughed at a public rally when supporters joked about shooting illegal immigrants. His campaign has run more than 2,000 ads that use the word "invasion" in the last year alone. He also stated that, in the wake of the weekend's shootings, "Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!"

The El Paso shooting only has something to do with immigration reform if Crusius was right that there is a Latino invasion of Texas, the former territory of Mexico filled with citizen-descendants of Mexicans for more than 150 years. (Never mind that it was impossible for Crusius to know which Latinos he shot were citizens and which were illegal immigrants.) Is it any surprise that Patrick Crusius called his attack "a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas" when the president himself seems to grant the depiction legitimacy?

Understanding the ethno-nationalist logic shared by the president, some of his supporters, and Crusius is essential if we want to stop a tragedy like El Paso from happening again. To do this, we must cultivate citizen friendship that transcends the ethno-nationalist narrative. We must strongly and actively repudiate the racial and ethnic characterizations that many on the right have failed to adequately oppose thus far.

August 16, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 2:12 PM


Trump ties US success to 2nd term: 'You have to vote for me' (KEVIN FREKING, 8/16/19, AP)

The rally was interrupted about a half an hour in by a handful of protesters near the rafters of the arena. As the protesters were being led out, a Trump supporter wearing a "Trump 2020" shirt near them began enthusiastically shaking his fist in a sign of support for the president.

But Trump mistook him for one of the protesters and said to the crowd: "That guy's got a serious weight problem. Go home. Start exercising. Get him out of here, please."

After a pause, he added, "Got a bigger problem than I do."

He thought a fat white guy threatening violence was an opponent?

Posted by orrinj at 4:28 AM



Amid talk of a U.S. recession, President Donald Trump is reportedly paranoid that economists are biasing their data against him to prevent his re-election in 2020, a downturn that his administration has not prepared for.

According to The Washington Post, Trump is anxious and has been calling business leaders from his New Jersey golf course this week for their views as administration officials try to soothe him with optimistic briefings about the underlying strength of America's economy.

"He's rattled," one unnamed Republican with knowledge of the conversations told the Post. "He thinks that all the people that do this economic forecasting are a bunch of establishment weenies--elites who don't know anything about the real economy and they're against Trump."

The real genius here is that we got to his Wharton profs so he was never taught basic economics.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


Inside the Hong Kong protesters' anarchic campaign against China : Young protesters in Hong Kong are directly challenging China's communist rulers. Inspired by kung fu legend Bruce Lee, their leaderless structure is frustrating efforts by the authorities to stymie them. It could also undermine their movement. ((JAMES POMFRET, GREG TORODE, CLARE JIM and ANNE MARIE ROANTREE, Aug. 16, 2019, Reuters)

Ah Lung spends his days working as a clerk for a Hong Kong shipping firm. At night, he dons a mask, black helmet and body armor, and heads out into the streets to face off against the city's riot police.

The 25-year-old activist has been a constant presence at the often violent protests that have rocked Hong Kong this summer, rallying comrades, building barricades and rushing from district to district in a frantic game of cat-and-mouse with police.

Ah Lung, who would only identify himself by his nickname, which means "dragon" in Cantonese, is representative of a growing number of discontented young Hong Kongers who are fueling a protest movement that, unlike its predecessors, is taking aim directly at Beijing.

It is a movement without clearly discernible leaders or structure, making it difficult for the authorities to effectively target-- and increasingly hard for the protestors themselves to manage. While it has the support of established pro-democracy groups, the amorphous movement is fueled by activists like Ah Lung - young Hong Kongers who operate independently or in small groups and adapt their tactics on the run.

"We're not so organized," Ah Lung said. "Every day changes, and we see what the police and the government do, then we take action."

"My dream is to revive Hong Kong, to bring a revolution in our time," Ah Lung said. "This is the meaning of my life now."

Through interviews with dozens of protesters like Ah Lung and reporting from dozens of protests, Reuters has pieced together a picture of how this movement functions and the mindset driving it.

The protests, which started as a peaceful rebuke of the Hong Kong government back in April, have evolved into a direct challenge to Communist Party rule over this former British colony. With slogans such as "Free Hong Kong" and "Hong Kong is not China," Ah Lung and his fellow protesters have made clear they reject a future in which Hong Kong is inexorably absorbed into the mainland giant, eventually becoming just another Chinese city.

Protesters are provocatively calling the demonstrations an "era of revolution," a formulation that has infuriated a ruling Chinese Communist Party determined to crush any challenge to its monopoly on power.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


U.S. 30-year yields drop to record low; 10-year yields sink (Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, 8/16/19, Reuters)

U.S. 30-year Treasury yields fell to a record low below 2% and benchmark 10-year notes dropped to a three-year trough on Thursday amid persistent worries about global trade tensions and economic slowdowns around the world.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Spurning lawmakers, Netanyahu loses the Democrats he never thought he had (Raphael Ahren, 8/16/19, Times of Israel)

The Israeli government's decision to bar two Democratic members of Congress from entering the country may one day be considered one of the final nails in the coffin of bipartisan support for Israel.

Elevating Nationalism above democracy meant the split between the West and Israel was coming.  Bibi is just hastening it.

August 15, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:18 PM


August 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31