April 15, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 5:16 PM


Scoop: Trump tried to block Pence national security appointment (Jonathan Swan, 4/15/18, Axios)

Trump was furious when he learned Pence was bringing on Nikki Haley's deputy Jon Lerner, according to three sources familiar with the events. The President believed Lerner was a card-carrying member of the "Never Trump" movement because Lerner crafted brutal attack ads for Club for Growth's multimillion-dollar anti-Trump blitz during the Republican primaries.

"Why would Mike do that?" Trump wondered aloud about Pence's decision, according to two sources briefed on the President's private conversations.

Posted by orrinj at 5:14 PM


Nikki Haley says U.S. 'work in Syria is not done' (The Week, 4/15/18)
The United States' "work in Syria is not done," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Fox News Sunday. "Were not going to leave until we know we have accomplished [U.S. goals]," she continued. "Be very clear, if we leave -- when we leave -- it will be because we know that everything is moving forward."

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at 1:17 PM


Happy Jackie Robinson Day...

Posted by orrinj at 12:09 PM


Trump worried he screwed up on TPP (BEN WHITE & AUBREE ELIZA WEAVER,  04/13/2018, Politico)

On Thursday, Trump directed NEC Director Larry Kudlow and USTR Robert Lighthizer to study the idea of rejoining TPP, which is moving ahead without the world's largest economy.

Sources tell MM that Trump has been quizzing people for several weeks about whether they think he made a big mistake by dumping TPP, especially now that he is trying to put pressure on China to reform its practices on intellectual property, forced technology transfers and auto tariffs, among other things.

The way the sources describe it to MM, Trump realizes he'd have a much stronger position against China if he had the support of TPP's current 11 members, a group that includes Japan, Canada and Mexico. "He realizes he screwed it up but I don't see how he can get back in," one person close to the president said.

This all ends with him slapping tariffs on American-made goods...

Posted by orrinj at 12:08 PM


How progressives got steamrolled in New Jersey: The party establishment flexes its muscles in a bid to flip a Republican House seat. (MATT FRIEDMAN 04/15/2018, Politico)

Jeff Van Drew has voted against raising the minimum wage and gay marriage. He often sides with industry on environmental issues and carries an A rating from the NRA. And he's the odds-on favorite to be New Jersey's newest Democratic congressman.

In the party's first real crack at winning the South Jersey-based district held by retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) for more than two decades, Democratic party establishment -- at every level -- is throwing its collective weight behind Van Drew, leaving local progressives baffled, frustrated and more than a little angry.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 PM

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Posted by orrinj at 11:39 AM


The FBI's revenge (Mike Allen, 4/15/18, axios)

[T]he FBI is getting its revenge. All at once, Trump is being pounded by the bureau and its alumni, with a three-pronged threat.

The broadest narrative comes from fired FBI director James Comey, who concludes his piercing, detailed attacks in "A Higher Loyalty," out Tuesday: "There is reason to believe this fire will leave the presidency weaker and Congress and the courts stronger, just as the forest fire of Watergate did." On Monday, Comey spent nearly five hours with ABC's George Stephanopoulos (airing at 10 tonight as a "20/20" special). Sources familiar with the Comey interview say ABC has held back some of his strongest news-making bites. A source present at the taping said Comey's comments will "shock the president and his team" and "add more meat to the charges swirling around Trump."

The clearest and most immediate threat, in the view of some White House aides, comes from the New York feds' investigation into Trump's longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who joined the Trump Organization in 2006. Trump advisers worry Cohen could serve as a Rosetta stone to the past decade of Trump's high-wire business dealings. The raid on Cohen's office has rattled Trump like no previous twist in the investigation.

Robert Mueller's investigation has the potential to yield embarrassing revelations about Trump's campaign, transition and presidency, whether clumsy shortcuts or something more. Trump lawyers say the White House turned over more than 20,000 pages of documents, and the campaign provided more than 1.4 million.

Posted by orrinj at 8:48 AM


Northwest States Do Best, Southeast Worst in New Social Capital Measure (Charles Fain Lehman, April 15, 2018, Free Beacon)

The SCP's latest project is meant to capture how social capital is spread throughout the United States, and where it's strongest and weakest. This work adds to previous indexes produced by researchers at Penn State University and by noted social scientist Robert Putnam. The SCP argues that these past efforts rely on out-of-date data, or under-include certain indicators.

"Our conclusion was that a better social capital index was needed than those currently available," the report reads.

To measure social capital, the project aggregated numerous publicly available statistics on America's states and counties. These included measures of family, like time spent together and out-of-wedlock births (on which the SCP has reported previously); measures of social support, like the average number of friends adults have; and measure of community and institutional health, like volunteer hours and voting habits.

The results indicate important variations in the regional distribution of social capital. The helpful, interactive maps provided by the project show that social capital concentrates mostly in the upper Midwest, spreading to the Pacific northwest and concentrating in states like Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. By contrast, measures of social capital are weakest in the south, but also in states like New York and California, and in states struck by the opioid crisis like West Virginia and Kentucky.

Posted by orrinj at 8:42 AM


Anne Frank House employee says he was barred from wearing kippa (Times of Israel, 4/15/18)

For his first six months on the job, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam reportedly forbade a Jewish employee from wearing a kippa.

Twenty-five-year-old Barry Vingerling was told to remove his kippa upon showing up at his first day of work at the museum, according to a report Thursday in the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly.

Museum officials explained that the Anne Frank House had a policy against donning religious symbols that would break with their "neutrality" efforts, Vingerling relayed to the NIW.

Posted by orrinj at 8:39 AM


Review: Chappaquiddick - Ted Kennedy and the Fall of Dickarus (Dominic Green, 15 April 2018, Spectator US)

Chappaquiddick is a drama not a legal indictment, but that makes it all the more devastating. Like the court that let him off with a slapped wrist, Chappaquiddick takes Ted at his word--his suspicious failure to report the accident, his apparent attempt to create an alibi, the falsifications in his written statement to the police, his bizarre behavior after the story broke, his falsifications of the record in court, and the further falsifications of his televised statement in the court of public opinion. We have only Ted's word that he repeatedly tried to save Mary Jo Kopechne. And Ted's word, Chappaquiddick shows, is worthless. Personally, I doubt he even tried to save her. I also doubt his claim that he could not recall how it was that he ended up on dry land, and she ended up trapped in an upended car.

In the New York Times, Neal Gabler has accused the makers of Chappaquiddick of character assassination. Admittedly, it's an embroidery to have Joe Kennedy, Sr., palsied by a stroke, gasping 'Alibi!' like an elderly Mafia don. But Gabler, an old-time liberal who is writing a biography of the 'white-maned senator', is protecting his professional and political investments. Ted assassinated whatever character he had. No one can complain about the necessary fictions of a film when its subject was in reality a proven liar.

Jason Clarke captures Ted's appeal and weakness perfectly. Like Elvis after the '68 Special or Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky affair, Kennedy is seedy and flabby, but he still has a shake in his hips and the confused, fascinating intensity of a petulant giant. When Ted breaks the news to Kopechne's parents, he launches into a politician's speech. They hang up, and he sobs--for himself and his weakness, and not for their dead daughter.

Two comedians play against type in this sorry tragedy. Ed Helms is superb as the Kennedy clan's Tom Hagen, Ted's cousin and fixer Joe Gargan. Jim Gaffigan, as Massachusetts attorney-general Paul Markham, is a moral and physical slob, a high official reduced to a drunken gofer for Ted Sorensen and the family lawyers as they conspire to cover up Ted's crime and then, when the story breaks, spin it so that Ted, not Mary Jo Kopechne, is the victim.

In his 1988 book Senatorial Privilege, Leo Damore reports an interview with Gargan in which Gargan claims that Ted Kennedy at first tried to pin the crash on Kopechne, by claiming that she was driving. Kennedy himself was unable to explain why he didn't report the accident for ten hours. As Chappaquiddick shows, his conduct is only explicable as that of a coward in search of an alibi. The same goes for his ludicrous donning of a neck brace for Kopechne's funeral -- the papers reported that he had no trouble turning around in his pew--and the claim by Kennedy lawyers that Ted couldn't speak to the press because he was sedated because of concussion. They dropped that line when it emerged that sedating a concussion can be fatal.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


In Moscow, a Sense of Relief After a Limited Syria Attack (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, APRIL 14, 2018, NY Times)

The sun was barely up before the Defense Ministry, not famous for speedy reactions, pumped out a statement underscoring that none of the thousands of Russian troops garrisoned in Syria had been threatened by the American, British and French attack and that none of its air defense systems had been mobilized.

"It looks like both sides were playing according to their prescribed roles and managed to limit the harm from this kind of confrontation," said Aleksandr M. Golts, an independent Russian military analyst and deputy editor of Yezhednevny Zhurnal, an online current affairs magazine. "Syria will not be the starting point for some kind of global confrontation."

The American ambassador to Russia, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., released a statement on Facebook on Saturday confirming that the two sides had taken steps before the assault to made sure they stayed out of each other's way. "Before we took action," he said, "the U.S. communicated with the R.F. to reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties."

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Theresa May shows steel while Donald Trump wobbles in final countdown (Tim Shipman, April 15 2018, The Sunday Times)

When Donald Trump spoke to Theresa May on Thursday to discuss their planned airstrikes on Syria, the US president was far more subdued than he had been three days earlier when he warned Russia and its client dictator, Bashar al-Assad, that his "nice and new and smart" missiles "will be coming".

That outburst exasperated ministers and highlighted the difficulty of standing shoulder to shoulder with an ally who shoots from the lip.

"When Trump started tweeting he hadn't even had his intelligence briefing," said one cabinet source. "He was speaking without having the first clue of what he was talking about."

When May gathered her cabinet on Wednesday at least two ministers called Trump's tweets "unhelpful". Throughout Whitehall there was frustration that the president had made it easier for Vladimir Putin to accuse the West of escalating the conflict and for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, to condemn a rush to war. He was soon accusing May of awaiting "instructions from Trump".

Behind the scenes an effort was under way to rein in the president, led by his defence secretary, James Mattis. [...]

Trump told May: "We're going to do it and we're going to do it well." But those who had heard him said that he seemed nervous. "It was a bit of a wobble," one Whitehall official said.

Aides say May was in no doubt that military action was required after intelligence chiefs briefed her last Sunday about the attack on Douma, which killed 75 people. The prime minister, who is not given to overt displays of emotion, was shocked that Assad's regime had apparently used chlorine against civilians who were unable to escape. "That was what really struck home with the boss," said one aide.

"That these were people hiding in cellars underground with no means of escape and the regime used a weapon that could penetrate there and kill people who were in hiding. It's a straightforward instrument of fear. She was very struck by the sheer inhumanity of it."

A cabinet source said: "She's been very clear and tough from the beginning."

Posted by orrinj at 7:13 AM


Meet The Teacher Whose Holocaust Class Is Inspiring Parkland's Student Activists (Ilene Prusher and Nikki Casey, 4/15/18, The Forward)

All year long, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Ivy Schamis teaches her students about the Holocaust: about perpetrators, victims and survivors both historical and contemporary.

She never imagined she would find herself using those words to describe her own students, her colleagues -- even herself. Eight weeks ago, when students had just finished presenting research about the hate groups operating today on American college campuses, that changed. Nikolas Cruz, an expelled student armed with an AR-15, thrust his semi-automatic assault rife through her window. Two of the 17 students who died that day were Schamis'; she'd taught another one the year before.

"One of [my students] said to me, 'We used to watch the news," Schamis explained in a conversation in a coffee shop less than a mile from the school, her eyes tight with sadness. "Now we've become the news."

The student activists forged in the crucible of the shooting have drawn on the lessons she taught in her classroom, decorated with barbed-wire painted on the walls, Never Forget posters and an "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign over her desk. She will never be allowed to go back there; the building is going to be destroyed. But she continues to teach, and they continue to learn. Life is just very different.

Posted by orrinj at 6:58 AM


How much proof do you need? (James Tapsfield, 15 April 2018, Daily Mail)

Jeremy Corbyn again refused to blame Russia for the Salisbury attack today saying he wants to see 'incontrovertible evidence'.

The Labour leader risked inflaming tensions with his own MPs by making clear he is still not convinced that Moscow was behind the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia. 

Britain dramatically moved to counter Russian propaganda on Salisbury last week by releasing new evidence.

Some kids prefer the red Trumpbot.