April 7, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 9:01 PM


Trump to nominate pro-immigration free-trading globalist as CEA chair (Cardiff Garcia, 4/07/17, Financial Times)


America Needs more workers
... With lackluster GDP growth threatening to become our new normal, allowing more immigrants to enter for the sake of employment is one of the few policies that might restore our old normal. If the U.S. doubled its total immigration and prioritized bringing in new workers, it could add more than half a percentage point a year to expected GDP growth.


Understanding the role of the United States in the global economy
Liberalized trade -- in broadly multilateral, regional, or bilateral agreements -- is a key ingredient in the recipe for prosperity. ... An absolute prerequisite for long-term economic growth is full participation in the global economy and trading system.

Maybe one more shot, it's Friday:

Analysis of the economic effects of immigration reform
... This paper explores the economic consequences of expanded immigration on the U.S. economy. It begins by reviewing the immigration practices of our OECD trading partners, and documenting that immigration, as a share of the work force, is well below international norms. The literature identifying the economic impact of immigration is reviewed, suggesting that economic growth could expand significantly if immigration in the U.S. were expanded.

These passages are by Kevin Hassett, the economist who will be nominated by Donald Trump to be the next chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

Posted by orrinj at 8:48 PM


THE RUSSIA CONNECTION : Of Course there's Evidence Trump Colluded with Russian Intelligence (Jordan Brunner, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes, April 7, 2017, Lawfare)

When people say there is no evidence of collusion, they mean, we suppose, that there is no evidence of covert or illegal collaboration with the criminal activity undertaken in the course of this foreign intelligence operation against the United States.

But that is rather a different matter than acquitting Trump and his campaign of collaborating with the Russians. It ignores, after all, the overt and perfectly legal collaboration they plainly engaged in with what they knew to be an ongoing foreign intelligence operation against their country. We don't need an investigation to show that this overt activity took place, for the Trumpists were caught in flagrante delicto throughout the entire campaign; indeed, caught is even the wrong word here. The cooperation was an open and public feature of the campaign.

It included open encouragement of the Russians to hack Democratic targets; denial that they had done so; encouragement of Wikileaks, which was publicly known to be effectively a publishing arm of the Russian operation, in publishing the fruits of the hacks; and publicly trumpeting the contents of stolen emails.

Most notoriously, on July 27, Trump stated during a news conference: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." He later doubled down on the statement, tweeting:

 Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!
12:16 PM - 27 Jul 2016
  24,076 24,076 Retweets   62,076 62,076 likes

In other words, after the Russian government had already been publicly associated with the hack, Trump urged it to conduct further hacking. One of the present authors wrote as much at the time, arguing that Trump had just "call[ed] on a foreign intelligence service to engage in operations against the United States."

On at least one occasion, Trump also publicly celebrated a pending Wikileaks release of further hacked information, that is, the release of stolen material by an organization whose connections to Russian intelligence were hardly a secret. Giving a speech in Miami on November 2, he declared: "So today, I guess WikiLeaks, it sounds like, is going to be dropping some more, and if we met tomorrow, I'll tell you about it tomorrow, but one beauty that's been caught was, and this was just recently, newly released, where they say having a dump. We're having a dump of all of those e-mails. . . ."

He also declared multiple times that he "love[d] Wikileaks" or "love[d] reading those Wikileaks"--that is, knowing that a foreign intelligence operation had taken place against his opponent and the Wikileaks was publishing the fruits, he publicly celebrated the publisher. Three days before the election, he riffed at a campaign rally: "You know, as I was getting off the plane, they were just announcing new Wikileaks! And I wanted to stay there but I didn't want to keep you waiting. I didn't want to keep you waiting. Let me run back onto the plane and find out!"

Included below in the Appendix to this article is a rough and incomplete timeline of both Trump's statements obscuring Russia's intervention and his appeals to Wikileaks material--that is, material stolen by the Russians and published by an organization publicly identified as fronting for them--throughout the campaign.

All of which is what Clint Watts was talking about last week when he told the Senate Intelligence Committee that: "part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the commander-in-chief has used Russian active measures, at times, against his opponents."

Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms (JO BECKER and MATTHEW ROSENBERGAPRIL 6, 2017, NY Times)


When Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak's behest.

Posted by orrinj at 8:41 PM


Trump's Syria Strike Is Latest Sign of Steve Bannon's Waning Influence (Gabriel Sherman, 4/07/17, New York)

Donald Trump's surprise decision to launch missile strikes against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces in response to Tuesday's horrific chemical attack represented a reversal from Trump's noninterventionist campaign message. It's also the most recent sign of the declining power of his chief strategist Stephen Bannon. Two sources close to Bannon told me the former Breitbart executive chairman argued against the strike -- not because of its questionable constitutionality, but on the grounds that it doesn't advance Trump's America First doctrine. "Steve doesn't think we belong there," one Bannon ally told me. Bannon's position lost out to those inside the White House, including Jared Kushner, who argued Trump needed to punish the Assad regime.

Posted by orrinj at 8:27 PM


Some of Trump's biggest supporters are furious about his strikes in Syria (Jeff Stein,  Apr 6, 2017, Vox)

Almost immediately following reports of the Syrian airstrikes, prominent right-wing news outlets and media personalities most closely associated with the self-described alt-right and Trumpism more generally attacked the president's foreign intervention -- which appears to fly against so much of the rhetoric from his campaign.

Among them were Paul Joseph Watson, who contributes to the far-right conspiracy site Infowars; Mike Cernovich, the professed self-improvement guru who's drawn a massive social media following in part by praising Trump; radio host Laura Ingraham, formerly of Fox News; and Ann Coulter, the author and provocateur. All four quickly denounced the attacks as a reversal of Trump's campaign promises...

You can sort of get all these Trumpies being pro-Putin--he's at least paying them.  But pro-Assad?

Posted by orrinj at 9:11 AM


West Wing at war (with itself) (Axios, 4/07/17)

President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon, aides and advisers tell us.

Posted by orrinj at 8:25 AM


Don Rickles, Comedy's Equal Opportunity Offender, Dies at 90 (PETER KEEPNEWS and RICHARD SEVERO, APRIL 6, 2017, NY Times)

Focusing less on prepared material and more on interaction with his audience, he had found his voice. He was not the first insult comedian -- and in fact an earlier master of the comic insult, Jack E. Leonard, was known to complain that Mr. Rickles's act was too similar to his -- but he soon became far and away the most successful.

Bookings in the late 1950s at the Slate Brothers nightclub in Hollywood and the lounge of the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas spread the word. During his Slate Brothers engagement, Carl Reiner recalled in "Mr. Warmth," the biggest names in show business felt that "if they hadn't been insulted by Rickles, they weren't with it."

His appearances insulting celebrities on the Dean Martin roasts and his sparring matches with Carson cemented Mr. Rickles's reputation, but his unscripted brand of humor proved an uneasy fit for weekly television. A variety show in 1968 and a situation comedy in 1972, both called "The Don Rickles Show," were short-lived, as was "Daddy Dearest," a 1993 sitcom in which he and the comedian Richard Lewis played father and son. The closest thing to a hit show he had was "CPO Sharkey," a Navy comedy, which aired from 1976 to 1978.

Critics were often not sure what to make of Mr. Rickles. John J. O'Connor of The Times wrote in 1972 that for some his humor "will always remain tasteless," while for others "it has its delicious moments of madness." Tom Shales of The Washington Post, 26 years later, was more enthusiastic, praising him as "mythic, timeless, fearless -- endowed by the gods with some absurd miraculous gift."

No critic, however thoughtful, could quite explain Mr. Rickles's durability in show business, given that until the end of his career he was peppering his act with slurs and stereotypes long out of favor. And yet he not only got away with it, but he also flourished.

That, right there, is precious.

Posted by orrinj at 7:33 AM


Outraged Clowns Say 'IT' Trailer Stoking Anti-Clown Prejudice, Similar to Racism (Jonathan McAloon, April 7, 2017, Heat Street)
Professional clowns have complained that the viral trailer for the new film version of Stephen King's IT is stoking anti-clown prejudice comparable to racism.

No more white-face privilege?

Posted by orrinj at 7:23 AM


To Defend Bannon, Breitbart Has Opened Fire On The President's Son-In-Law (Matt Gertz, April 7, 2017, National Memo)

Breitbart.com, the pro-Trump propaganda outlet previously run by White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, is now being deployed against President Donald Trump's son-in-law and top White House staffer Jared Kushner as part of an internal power struggle.

Over the past week -- as Kushner and Bannon have reportedly feuded -- the website has published articles highlighting Kushner's meetings with the Russian ambassador, questioning the ethics of his business dealings, criticizing his "thin resume in diplomacy," and speculating about whether he is leaking negative stories about Bannon.

Those attacks represent a U-turn in the website's coverage of the president's family. Following Trump's election and in the early days of his administration, Breitbart provided Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, with soft-focus celebrity coverage. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:28 AM


Nikki Haley Says U.S. May 'Take Our Own Action' on Syrian Chemical Attack (SOMINI SENGUPTA and RICK GLADSTONE, APRIL 5, 2017, NY Times)

"Time and time again, Russia uses the same false narrative to deflect attention from their allies in Damascus," Ms. Haley said. "How many more children have to die before Russia cares?"

She closed her remarks with an ominous warning. "When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," she said.

Just bring in W to deliver the same message he did before replacing the other Ba'athist regime  (George W. Bush, 12 September 2002, United Nations):

The United Nations was born in the hope that survived a world war, the hope of a world moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear.

The founding members resolved that the peace of the world must never again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man.

We created a United Nations security council so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes.

After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties and squandered lives, we've dedicated ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all and to a system of security defended by all.

Today, these standards and this security are challenged. [...]

Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. [...]

Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?

The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective and respectful and successful.

We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the [Syrian] regime. [...]

My nation will work with the UN security council to meet our common challenge. If [Syria]'s regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account.

We will work with the UN security council for the necessary resolutions.

But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted.

The security council resolutions will be enforced, the just demands of peace and security will be met or action will be unavoidable and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

Events can turn in one of two ways. If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of [Syria] will continue to live in brutal submission.

The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbours, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear.

The regime will remain unstable - the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom and isolated from the progress of our times. [....]

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of [Syria] can shake off their captivity.

They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world.

These nations can show by their example that honest government and respect for women and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather.

We must stand up for our security and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind.

By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.

Thank you very much.

Posted by orrinj at 5:22 AM


Reality check: U.S. manufacturing jobs at 1941 levels (Heather Long, April 7, 2017, CNN Money)

[I]t's worth remembering that employment in manufacturing is currently at 1941 levels.

The glory days of manufacturing were the 1970s. Back then, over 19.5 million Americans earned their paycheck from factory work. It's been a fairly steady decline ever since. Today only 12.4 million workers remain in the industry.

Posted by orrinj at 5:19 AM


Can "Digital Therapeutics" Be as Good as Drugs? (Christina Farr  April 7, 2017, MIT Technology Review)

What if an app could replace a pill? That's the big question behind an emerging trend known as "digital therapeutics." The idea: software that can improve a person's health as much as a drug can, but without the same cost and side-effects.

Digital therapeutics, or "digiceuticals," as some call them, have become a Holy Grail in some quarters of Silicon Valley, where investors see the chance to deliver medicine through your smartphone. Andreessen Horowitz, the venture firm, even predicts digital drugs will become "the third phase" of medicine, meaning the successor to the chemical and protein drugs we have now, but without the billion-dollar cost of bringing one to market.  

"It's going to seem backwards and even barbaric that our solution to everything was just giving out pills," partner Vijay Pande wrote on the investment company's blog.

They're basically ethical placebos.

Posted by orrinj at 5:07 AM


Hank Azaria delivers a play-by-play comedy with 'Brockmire' (Lorraine Ali, 4/07/17, LA Times)

Far from forgotten, his 2007 meltdown went viral while he was overseas; the worst day in Brockmire's life has reached a new generation of fans, many of whom use his wife's name as shorthand when describing a particular sex act. The newfound fame, however, is not the kind of notoriety Brockmire needs to reestablish his career.

But it's the only reason his young assistant-intern Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams) knows Brockmire's name. The nerdy recluse, who has no interest in radio or baseball, grew up watching Brockmire's humiliating meltdown on YouTube, so feels he knows at least something about the man he's now working for.

The series pokes fun at just about every baseball cliché there is - the deep-voiced announcer in the loud sports jacket, rituals that must be performed before each game in order for the team to win (in this case, it's imperative for Jules and Jim to have sex), the Japanese pitcher and famed Latino hitter whose stars have faded.

Azaria and Peet are great, together and separately. Both bring a humor and sympathy to characters that might otherwise prove difficult to tolerate, let alone like.

He's jaded, despondent and broken. She's less broken and harbors too much hope to be jaded. Jules has taken out a second mortgage on her bar to buy the team. She believes the team, the town and Brockmire can be redeemed.

In case this sounds saccharine, Jules also thinks offering free cold medicine (an ingredient often used in making methamphetamine) at the gate is a great promotional idea. "Because we don't judge you like those snooty pharmacists," announces Brockmire to the sparsely populated stadium.

You won't want to watch it on a plane, with kids in the room nor maybe even your spouse, but it's very amusing.  One of the networks should really make Azaria their lead play-by-play guy.

Posted by orrinj at 5:03 AM


Le Pen shocked by Trump's decision to bomb Syria (The Local, 7 April 2017)

Far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said she was shocked by Donald Trump's decision to launch missile strikes in Syria.

National Front leader Le Pen appeared to distance herself from US President Donald Trump on Friday morning following the US strike on a Syria air base, which was carried out in response to a suspected chemical attack.

Posted by orrinj at 4:58 AM


Michael Caine on Brexit: 'I'd rather be a poor master' (Reuters, 4/06/17)

British actor Michael Caine, who voted for a British exit from the European Union in the June 23 referendum, said he would rather be a poor master than a rich servant and that post-Brexit Britain would endure.

"I'd rather be a poor master than a rich servant," Caine was quoted as saying by Sky News.

"I voted for Brexit," Caine said. "It wasn't about the racism, immigrants or anything, it was about freedom."

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


For Trump, an overnight evolution on Syria (JULIE PACE April 7, 2017, Times of Israel)

Trump is hardly the first president to reconsider his views after assuming the responsibility of controlling the world's most powerful military. But with a major shift coming just 77 days into his presidency, his may be one of the fastest transformations in recent memory.

After spending years warning US leaders that Syria was a dangerous quagmire, Trump is said to have been moved by the gripping images of young Syrian children's listless bodies that were beamed across the world following the chemical attack. He mourned the "beautiful babies" were among the dozens killed by the deadly gases and accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of having "choked" his own citizens.

He's too severely constrained by events to do other than what we want.