January 22, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 8:20 PM


George Papadopoulos is the 'John Dean' of the Russia investigation, his fiancee says (Rosalind S. Helderman, January 22, 2018, Washington Post)

"I believe history will remember him like John Dean," said Italian-born Simona Mangiante, referring to the former White House counsel who pleaded guilty to his role in the Watergate coverup and then became a key witness against other aides to President Richard Nixon.

Dean told Nixon in 1973 that Watergate was a "cancer on the presidency," warning him that it was an existential crisis that could imperil his term in office. [...]

Without offering specifics, Mangiante said there is much more that has not yet been told publicly about Papadopoulos' 10 months as an informal national security adviser to Trump and his interactions with a London-based professor who told Papadopoulos, according to court filings, that the Russians had "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

"There's a lot to come," she said. "He was the first one to break a hole on all of this."

Posted by orrinj at 8:12 PM


She Confronts Trump's Immigration Advisers With Their Own Immigrant Histories (Ben Sales, January 22, 2018, JTA)

[I]f English proficiency had been an immigration requirement a century ago, Miller's own great-grandmother may not have been allowed into the country.

That's what journalist Jennifer Mendelsohn discovered that same day while working on a new project she calls Resistance Genealogy. Using public records and genealogical websites like Ancestry.com, Mendelsohn wants to show immigration hard-liners their own immigrant family trees.

"When you do genealogy, you're constantly confronted with the reality of our immigrant past," Mendelsohn told JTA. "It appears from some of the attitudes and stances that people are taking publicly that they're forgetting that."

In Miller's case, Mendelsohn tracked down his great-grandmother's line item in the 1910 census. The entry noted that four years after arriving in the United States, she spoke only Yiddish, not English.

Mendelsohn has performed similar searches for the immigrant forbears of a handful of President Donald Trump's advisers and supporters, seeking hard data to support the idea that America is a nation of immigrants. She's found out about Fox News host Tucker Carlson's great-great-grandfather, conservative pundit Tomi Lahren's great-great-grandfather (who forged his immigration papers, no less) and U.S. Rep. Steve King's grandmother, who arrived in the United States from Germany at age 4. ("We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," the Iowa Republican tweeted in March.)

On Jan. 9, Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media, called for an end to "chain migration," which refers to immigrants bringing their relatives to live in the United States. But Mendelsohn discovered that the practice had brought Scavino's great-grandfather, Gildo, to the country.

"So Dan. Let's say Victor Scavino arrives from Canelli, Italy, in 1904, then brother Hector in 1905, brother Gildo in 1912, sister Esther in 1913, & sister Clotilde and their father Giuseppe in 1916, and they live together in NY," Mendelsohn tweeted, listing his family members. "Do you think that would count as chain migration?"

Indeed, the big change from then to now is how much more quickly immigrants assimilate, mostly due to mass media and globalization.

Posted by orrinj at 7:58 PM


Scoop: FBI director threatened to resign amid Trump, Sessions pressure (Jonathan Swan, 1/22/18, Axios)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- at the public urging of President Donald Trump -- has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM


Science Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost  (EMMA GREEN  JAN 18, 2018, The Atlantic)

The first time Ashley McGuire had a baby, she and her husband had to wait 20 weeks to learn its sex. By her third, they found out at 10 weeks with a blood test. Technology has defined her pregnancies, she told me, from the apps that track weekly development to the ultrasounds that show the growing child. "My generation has grown up under an entirely different world of science and technology than the Roe generation," she said. "We're in a culture that is science-obsessed."

Activists like McGuire believe it makes perfect sense to be pro-science and pro-life. While she opposes abortion on moral grounds, she believes studies of fetal development, improved medical techniques, and other advances anchor the movement's arguments in scientific fact. "The pro-life message has been, for the last 40-something years, that the fetus ... is a life, and it is a human life worthy of all the rights the rest of us have," she said. "That's been more of an abstract concept until the last decade or so." But, she added, "when you're seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping," it becomes "harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable."

Scientific progress is remaking the debate around abortion. When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, the case that led the way to legal abortion, it pegged most fetuses' chance of viable life outside the womb at 28 weeks; after that point, it ruled, states could reasonably restrict women's access to the procedure. Now, with new medical techniques, doctors are debating whether that threshold should be closer to 22 weeks. Like McGuire, today's prospective moms and dads can learn more about their baby earlier into a pregnancy than their parents or grandparents. And like McGuire, when they see their fetus on an ultrasound, they may see humanizing qualities like smiles or claps, even if most scientists see random muscle movements.

These advances fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion. New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status. Over the last several decades, pro-life leaders have increasingly recognized this and rallied the power of scientific evidence to promote their cause. They have built new institutions to produce, track, and distribute scientifically crafted information on abortion. They hungrily follow new research in embryology. They celebrate progress in neonatology as a means to save young lives. New science is "instilling a sense of awe that we never really had before at any point in human history," McGuire said. "We didn't know any of this."

Posted by orrinj at 7:08 PM


Trump voting commission bought Texas election data flagging Hispanic voters (Spencer S. Hsu and John Wagner January 22, 2018, Washington post)

President Trump's voting commission asked every state and the District for detailed voter registration data, but in Texas's case it took an additional step: It asked to see Texas records that identify all voters with Hispanic surnames, newly released documents show.

In buying nearly 50 million records from the state with the nation's second-largest Hispanic population, a researcher for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity checked a box on two Texas public voter data request forms explicitly asking for the "Hispanic surname flag notation," to be included in information sent to the voting commission, according to copies of the signed and notarized state forms.

Posted by orrinj at 5:55 PM


Trump Slaps Steep Tariffs on Imported Washing Machines and Solar Products (ANA SWANSON, JAN. 22, 2018, NY Times)

President Trump has imposed steep tariffs on both washing machines and solar products, responding to two separate trade cases that sought to protect American industry from a flood of cheap imports, including from China, the United States trade representative said Monday.

Oh, for the days of the UR, removing restrictions on the economy.

Posted by orrinj at 5:47 PM


Chelsea Manning Went To A Far-Right Party Celebrating Trump (Aiden Pink, 1/22/18, The Forward)

BuzzFeed News reported that Manning was hobnobbing at a New York nightclub with Cassandra Fairbanks, who writes for the conspiracist website The Gateway Pundit.

Hundreds of other figures of the far-right were at the party, including many whom the the Anti-Defamation League placed on a "hate speech" watchlist, such as conspiracy theorists Mike Cernovich, Gateway Pundit reporter Lucian Wintrich, and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, who once made a video titled "10 Things I Hate About Jews." [...]

Manning is running in a Democratic primary in Maryland to unseat incumbent senator Ben Cardin, who is Jewish.

Julian sent his regrets.

Posted by orrinj at 5:44 PM


Donald Trump's relationship with John Kelly, his chief of staff, fraught from the beginning, may finally have gone past the point of no return. Two prominent Republicans in frequent contact with the White House told me that Trump has discussed choosing Kelly's successor in recent days, asking a close friend what he thought about David Urban, a veteran Washington lobbyist and political operative who helped engineer Trump's victory in Pennsylvania. Ivanka is also playing a central role in the search, quietly field-testing ideas with people. "Ivanka is the most worried about it. She's trying to figure who replaces Kelly," a person who's spoken with her said.

Kelly's departure likely isn't imminent, sources said. "He wants to stay longer than Reince [Priebus]," an outside adviser said.

Perhaps the smallest ambition ever.

Posted by orrinj at 2:08 PM


Women and independents drive advantage for Democrats ahead of midterm elections, Post-ABC poll finds (Scott Clement, January 22, 2018, Washington Post)

By 51 percent to 39 percent, more registered voters say they would support the Democratic candidate in their congressional district over the Republican. Democrats' 12 percentage-point advantage on this "generic ballot" question is the largest in Post-ABC polling since 2006, although it is slightly larger than other polls this month. [...]

The Post-ABC poll found more Americans saying they think Trump and Republicans were responsible for the shutdown, although Republican leaders have expressed confidence that Democrats will be blamed for insisting on concessions for young undocumented immigrants before backing a funding bill.

The Post-ABC poll finds Democrats holding a 57 percent to 31 percent advantage among female voters, double the size of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's margin in the 2016 election. Nonwhite women favor Democrats by a 53-point margin, somewhat smaller than Clinton's 63-point advantage over Trump in 2016. But white women have moved sharply in Democrats' direction, favoring them over Republicans by 12 points after supporting Trump by nine points in 2016 and Republican candidates by 14 points in the 2014 midterm election, according to network exit polls.

Posted by orrinj at 2:06 PM


Trump administration's immigrant-crime hotline releases victims' personal information (Daniel González, 1/21/18, The Republic)

The same week the Trump administration opened a hotline last April to support victims of crimes by immigrants, Elena Maria Lopez called to report a complaint against her ex-husband.

At first, Lopez kept getting a busy signal.

But finally someone answered. For the next 20 minutes, Lopez provided a detailed account, accusing the Dutch immigrant of marrying her to get a green card and then threatening to harm her if she contacted immigration officials.

What happened next shocked Lopez.

Not only did Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that operates the hotline, decline to take action, but immigration authorities also released much of the private information she provided. This includes a confidential internet phone number she fears will now make it easier for anyone to locate her in New Jersey, where she has a protected address set up for domestic-violence victims.

Lopez is one of hundreds of people whose private information was inappropriately released by ICE when the agency posted call logs to the hotline on its website, a clear violation of the agency's own policies against divulging private information, as well as privacy laws intended to protect individuals who provide sensitive information to the government.

Posted by orrinj at 2:03 PM


Up to 1,000 more U.S. troops could be headed to Afghanistan this spring (Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan, January 21, 2018, Washington Post)

Senior administration officials said that the president has been known to affect an Indian accent and imitate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi...

Posted by orrinj at 1:57 PM


Stop Calling It "Incidental" Collection of Americans' Emails: The Gov't's Renewed Surveillance Powers (Allyson Scher, January 22, 2018, LawFare)

We have been told that the acquisition of Americans' private communications through Section 702 program is "incidental" and that the law does not allow the government to "target" Americans' communications--but it's through the use of such language where the confusion begins. If anything, what the recent Section 702 debates reveal is that the FBI considers it vital to access Americans' communications that have been collected under Section 702 program at various stages of an investigation.

The scope of "incidental" collection is wide. The acquisition of American's communications occurs when Americans communicate with foreigners that are "targeted" under Section 702.

Here's an idea: don't befriend foreigners who are perceived as a threat to our security.  Or, if you absolutely feel compelled to truckle with them, don't incriminate yourself in the conversation.

Posted by orrinj at 1:47 PM


Bad Coffee Will Make You a Happier Person (Nick Douglas, 1/22/18, Lifehacker)

When you like something, it's not typical to voluntarily try a worse version. It's much more usual to try a better version, as a splurge. With coffee, where you don't have to be rich to enjoy the top of the line once or twice, it's easy to train yourself to appreciate a better version, and to come to crave it every day, until you've bought yourself a home pourover setup with a grinder and a scale for your single-origin beans, because anything less tastes like stomach acid run through a dishwasher.

You start to rely on specific coffeeshops; you visit friends and turn down an offered cup. A tier of coffee that used to please you now disappoints you. You've kicked the ladder out from under you. You're no longer backward compatible.

What if instead, you tried a downgrade? Acclimate yourself to a slightly inferior cup of coffee? Splurge on a cheap cup from McDonald's or Dunkin' or the bodega? Grab the pre-ground beans? Buy a fifteen-dollar coffee machine instead of fussing with pourover or French press? Your body still appreciates the caffeine. And thanks to the march of technology and infrastructure, that cheap cup of coffee is a lot better than you remember.

If it costs much over $3 a pound you're being fleeced, but an electric kettle and a french press are a must.  It's the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to enjoy coffee.

Posted by orrinj at 1:23 PM


Patriots send yet another opponent home frustrated and frazzled (Ron Borges, January 22, 2018, bOSTON hERALD)

How, for example, can a team come out of a timeout and be flagged for delay of game on a third-and-7 situation that negated a 12-yard completion that would have allowed the Jags to keep the ball with 2:33 to play in the first half holding a 14-3 lead?

"Yeah, I just thought out of the timeout we lost track (of the play clock),'' Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone said sheepishly. Lost track? Your team didn't lose track. It lost the game. Or at least began that process.

On the next play they got both sacked and flagged for holding. Then, after pinning the Patriots at their own 15 with 2:02 left, his defense committed 47 yards worth of penalties on what became a 85-yard touchdown "drive'' that cut the lead to 14-10.

"You know how it is in this league,'' Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "The margin for error is small. We had our opportunities and we didn't make them. They executed better when they had to than we did.''

Yes they did. The Patriots executed their plays. The Jaguars executed themselves.

The Jags were better by far on third down, dominated the time of possession and outgained the Patriots. Well, they did the latter until you add 98 yards in penalties Jacksonville committed. That's nearly the length of a football field ... or the margin of victory when you lose by four points.

What separated these two teams is what has separated the Patriots from their peers for nearly two decades. It's the little things.

Like Blake Bortles missing a wide-open Marqise Lee on first-and-10 from his own 10. The throw went out of bounds and on the next play Bortles was sacked and second-half field position began to tilt in the Patriots' favor. Little by little.

"The game is never over at halftime," Brady said. "You've got to go to the end.'' [...]

Why is this? Why, time and again do the Patriots make the plays and their opponents do not? Why does a defense that was best in the league in defending the red zone give up two touchdowns in that area in the final quarter? Maybe one reason is deciding to run a kickoff back from the goal line and getting stuffed at your own 16 instead of downing the ball in the end zone and starting at your 25? Might that have contributed to the fact Jacksonville's final two drives of the game began at its 16 and 10, the latter resulting in a punt that gave the Patriots the ball at the Jags 30 to begin the winning drive?

Why do the little things add up for the Patriots and not for their opponents? Devin McCourty isn't sure but he has an idea.

"It's so interesting with this team,'' McCourty explained. "Everything we have to go through that we absolutely hate, it comes back (when the pressure is highest).

"First week (James) Harrison was here he said one day, 'More meetings?' Bill drills us on every situation over and over. It's not always what you want to hear. But so many times the situation comes up. When it gets tough, it's calm for us. All week we talked about we got to play from ahead and we played from behind all game. But we kept playing.''

Watching his "peers" mismanage the clock, field position, strategy, etc,, Bill must kick himself for every year he didn't win the Super Bowl. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:19 PM


Husband of USWNT star going to the Super Bowl (Darin Gantt, January 22, 2018, Pro Football Talk)

Posted by orrinj at 1:14 PM


Senators reach deal to reopen government (Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, 1/22/18, Reuters)

Schumer said he had come to an arrangement with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the funding bill to keep the government open until Feb. 8 and a plan to address the issue of the Dreamers.

As Donald says, his opposition to immigration was the only thing preventing a deal.

Posted by orrinj at 8:45 AM


The Ugly, Unknown Story Behind Roe v. Wade (SCOTTIE HUGHES, SEP 25, 2013, LifeNews)

Second, abortion advocates at the time of Roe were caught up in the wake of two decades of fear about a growing world population. A widely popular 1968 book by Dr. Paul Ehrlich declared that "the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines - hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article warning "if we breed like rabbits, in the long run we have to live and die like rabbits." The titles of popular books spoke for themselves. Ehrlich's best-seller was called The Population Bomb. Another was titled Too Many Asians.

In this vortex of fear about a near future in which there would simply be too many people on earth to feed, abortion seemed almost scientific, at least to those short-sighted enough to believe Ehrlich and his ilk. But we now know there was no "population bomb" (nor are there "too many Asians"). Yes, the population has grown, but famines and starvation did not. Instead, life expectancy and average incomes rose due to trade, technology, and free enterprise - not population control.

Third, the Justices in Roe "thought they were riding a wave of cultural sentiment in favor of abortion," says Forsythe. They never anticipated the backlash - the push for constitutional amendments, the thousands of people who march on the Supreme Court every anniversary of Roe, or the way the decision dominates the nomination process for Supreme Court Justices.

How were they supposed to know that America was religious, not Darwinist?  Justice Ginsburg captured their eugenic enthusiasm nicely:

"Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

It's why Donald has always supported abortion.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


A President Not Sure of What He Wants Complicates the Shutdown Impasse (JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and MAGGIE HABERMAN, JAN. 21, 2018, NY Times)

When President Trump mused last year about protecting immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, calling them "these incredible kids," aides implored him privately to stop talking about them so sympathetically.

When he batted around the idea of granting them citizenship over a Chinese dinner at the White House last year with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump's advisers quickly drew up a list of hard-line demands to send to Capitol Hill that they said must be included in any such plan.

And twice over the past two weeks, Mr. Trump has privately told lawmakers he is eager to strike a deal to extend legal status to the so-called Dreamers, only to have his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, make clear afterward that such a compromise was not really in the offing -- unless it also included a host of stiffer immigration restrictions.

As the government shutdown continued for its second day on Sunday, one thing was clear to both sides of the negotiations to end it: The president was either unwilling or unable to articulate the immigration policy he wanted, much less understand the nuances of what it would involve.

Both sides have reason to be confused. Each time Mr. Trump has edged toward compromise with Democrats, he has appeared to be reined in by his own staff, which shares the hawkish immigration stance that fueled his campaign. 

He ran on hate alone; what else does he have to offer his staff and base?

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


2018 Government Shutdown Report: Most & Least Affected States (John S Kiernan, 1/22/18, WalletHub)
Source: WalletHub

Posted by orrinj at 6:46 AM


Amazon Just Made a Huge Announcement That Will Completely Change the Future of Shopping (Betsy Mikel , 1/22/18, Inc.)
There are no cashiers. There aren't even checkout lanes. At Amazon's new grocery store, you just grab stuff off the shelves, bag it yourself and walk out. Everything gets automatically charged to your Amazon account.

It's called Amazon Go, and the store uses artificial intelligence and cameras to track what's being taken off the shelves. The 1,800 square foot store is located in the ground level of Amazon's new headquarters. Starting today, it's open to the public. All you need for entry is the Amazon Go app.

Posted by orrinj at 5:39 AM


Advocacy group: #SchumerShutdown becomes top hashtag used by Russian bots (JACQUELINE THOMSEN - 01/21/18, The Hill)

#SchumerShutdown became the top trending topic promoted by Russian bots on social media on Sunday night, a national security group found.

January 21, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 9:23 PM


FBI: Devin Nunes Won't Show Us Memo Alleging Surveillance Abuses (Betsy Woodruff, 01.21.18, Daily Beast)

"The FBI has requested to receive a copy of the memo in order to evaluate the information and take appropriate steps if necessary. To date, the request has been declined," said Andrew Ames, a spokesperson for the FBI.

Posted by orrinj at 6:26 PM


Watching 'Fox & Friends,' Trump Sees a Two-Way Mirror (JAMES PONIEWOZIK, JULY 19, 2017, NY Times)

The producers of children's television know the key to holding a distractible audience's attention: interactivity.

Dora the Explorer asks kids to repeat after her ("Swiper, no swiping!"). Mister Rogers broke the fourth wall to welcome them to his neighborhood. The hosts of "Romper Room" pretended to see them through a "magic mirror," and read their names on the air.

It turns out you can apply the same formula to morning news. "Fox & Friends," the three-hour wake-up program on Fox News, is an interactive magic mirror for Donald J. Trump.

President Trump is the show's subject, its programmer, its publicist and its virtual fourth host. The stars offer him flattery, encouragement and advice. When he tweets, his words and image appear on a giant video wall. It's the illusion of children's TV -- that your favorite show is as aware of you as you are of it -- except that for Mr. Trump, it's real.

In January the hosts, "Romper Room"-style, even pretended to be watching Potus, showing a video feed of the White House and asking him to flash the lights on and off if he was watching. (Producers added an effect of the lights flickering, a "TV trick" the hosts later acknowledged.)

Posted by orrinj at 4:23 PM


Schumer Shutdown Makes Clear Democrats' Real Priorities (Genevieve Wood, January 21, 2018, Daily Signal)

[I]t's because their liberal base is demanding that in this election year they put the needs and desires of those who are here in this country illegally before anybody else.

That is, indeed, the entire basis of the shutdown--Donald's hatred of minorities and opposition to America.

Huge majority of Americans want Dreamers to stay in US: poll (Bob Fredericks January 11, 2018, NY Post)

Americans by an almost 8 to 1 margin -- 79 percent -- think Dreamers should be allowed to remain in the country and apply for citizenship -- putting most voters at odds with GOP immigration hardliners in Congress and the Trump administration, a new Quinnipiac poll said Thursday.

Another 7 percent say they should stay but not become citizens -- while only 11 percent say they should get the boot.

Posted by orrinj at 10:12 AM


The Government Shutdown Effect: Big In The Short Term, Small After That (Harry Enten, 1/20/18, 538)

[P]rior shutdowns haven't had long-term electoral implications. Republicans recovered on the generic ballot by February 1996, just a month after the final shutdown of that period ended. And in the elections later that year, they held onto their majorities in both the House and Senate. Clinton, meanwhile, recovered his lost support by March 1996. He would go on to easily win reelection later in 1996.

Basically, America put the same people who shut the government down back in office.

The 2013 shutdown tells the same story. Despite losing the blame game, Republicans jumped to a lead on the generic ballot by late November 2013 -- their first of the year. In the 2014 midterms, they expanded their majority in the House and won back the Senate. Meanwhile, Obama continued a long-term decline in his approval ratings in the months following the 2013 shutdown, but recovered to his pre-shutdown approval level by April 2014.

Obviously, we're dealing with a very small sample size in terms of historical examples. We don't have a ton of polling with which to examine the political effects of prior shutdowns. So, perhaps this shutdown will prove different. Americans list dissatisfaction with government as the most important problem facing the country. In such an environment, the government shutdown could, for example, be held up by Democrats during the midterm campaign as the ultimate demonstration of the inability of Republicans to get things done on an issue (DACA) that most Americans support.

But your safest bet right now -- at least until we get more polling as this story unfolds (or ends) -- is that the long-term electoral effects of the shutdown will be minimal.

Democrats have nothing to lose from the shutdown and important relief for immigrants to gain.

Posted by orrinj at 9:38 AM


Efficiency is the goal for Cashman, Epstein and Friedman (Buster Olney, 1/21/18, ESPN)

When Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has an idea for a trade, one of his staffers related the other day, he will wait days before raising the concept with the other team. In the interim, he and his staff will deliberate over all sides of the would-be proposal, assessing and reassessing, like geologists turning and studying each millimeter of a rock.

Only after he is wholly educated on value involved will he make the call, fully armed to discuss what he wants out of the deal, and prepared to anticipate what the other guy might want. After two decades of running the Yankees, Cashman tends to not be reflexive or reactive, if he ever was. His many years of experience -- the failures and the successes -- have made him better. The same is said of two of his big-market peers, the Cubs' Theo Epstein and the Dodgers' Andrew Friedman.

Many factors have contributed to the stagnant winter market, from the impact of the luxury-tax threshold to the growing trend of teams opting to be really bad rather than merely mediocre (i.e., tanking). Another is that three of the teams with greatest resources -- the Dodgers, Cubs and Yankees -- are run by baseball operations executives devoted to efficiency. [...]

With Greinke unsigned and hanging in the market, the Diamondbacks swooped in and quickly worked out a six-year, $206.5 million deal -- another classic example of an impetuous contract negotiated at the ownership level. In the days after the move went down, the Dodgers and Friedman absorbed a lot of negative reviews for allowing a great pitcher to get away (including from this writer), in spite of the franchise's spending power. Greinke is about to enter Year 3 of the contract and, the evaluator said, it's apparent that Friedman absolutely made the right call not to compete with the D-backs' offer.

Long-term contracts on veteran free agents, the evaluator said, "are -- at best -- a 50-50 outcome for the teams. They can be really harmful, and having the [financial] flexibility is really important as you're trying to put together a roster."

By the time a player, especially a pitcher, reaches his initial free agency, you probably shouldn't be signing them through later than their age 32/33 season, unless to one-year deals.

Posted by orrinj at 9:36 AM


Iran may try to loosen Revolutionary Guard's grip on economy (JON GAMBRELL, 1/21/18, AP) 

Iran's supreme leader has ordered the Revolutionary Guard to loosen its hold on the economy, the country's defense minister says, raising the possibility that the paramilitary organization might privatize some of its vast holdings.

The comments this weekend by Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami appear to be a trial balloon to test the reaction of the idea, long pushed by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate. Protests over the country's poor economy last month escalated into demonstrations directly challenging the government. [...]

Hatami, the first non-Guard-affiliated military officer to be made defense minister in nearly 25 years, made the comments in an interview published Saturday by the state-run IRAN newspaper. He said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered both the country's regular military and the Guard to get out of businesses not directly affiliated to their work.

"Our success depends on market conditions," the newspaper quoted Hatami as saying.

Posted by orrinj at 9:23 AM


Why Are Social Conservatives Silent on Trump's Porn-Star Affair? (Jonah Goldberg, January 18, 2018, National Review)

It seems to me there are just two reasons why so many former professional finger-waggers refuse to do the minimal work necessary to protect their credibility. First, the president is incredibly thin-skinned and demands not only loyalty but flattery. Any criticism is seen as a betrayal. Second, the Trump base largely sees it the same way. It's a right-wing version of virtue signaling, or really, MAGA-signaling. If you're on board with Trump, you need to be all in. Can't have one foot on the Trump train. It's reminiscent of how Steve Bannon went around bragging that real MAGA-ers didn't flinch during "Billy Bush weekend." It's of a piece with the fact that you can vote 100 percent in favor of the "Trump agenda" but if you criticize Trump, you're a traitor. But if you vote against the Trump agenda but flatter the president, you'll be fine. It's why so much of the energy on the pro-Trump Right is channeled into the hypocrisy of liberals who also said sh**, or who defended adulterers, etc. Fine, many prominent liberals are hypocrites for suddenly caring about such things. But many prominent conservatives are hypocrites for suddenly not caring.

To be fair, much of the Left eschews even the notion of sexual mores, so they weren't being hypocritical about Bill's predation.  

Posted by orrinj at 9:19 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:59 AM


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