June 9, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 12:48 PM


Posted by orrinj at 9:49 AM


Trump White House under fire for lack of Muslim-American representation at Ramadan celebration  (Tara Isabella Burton, Jun 8, 2018, Vox)

The White House has hosted an Iftar dinner annually since the Clinton administration. However, President Donald Trump -- breaking with tradition -- passed on hosting one in 2017, causing controversy. This year, however, the Iftar dinner was no less controversial.

No Muslim-American leaders or activists appear to have attended the dinner. (Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, declined to provide a final guest list), and it is not clear if any were asked.

Posted by orrinj at 6:35 AM


Bulgaria To Replace Soviet MiG Jets With NATO Allies' Planes (Radio Liberty, June 09, 2018)

Bulgaria's parliament on June 8 approved a plan to spend about $2 billion (1.6 billion euros) to purchase 150 combat vehicles and 16 new or used fighter jets to replace its aging Soviet-designed MiG-29s.

Problems with Bulgaria's fleet of 15 Soviet aircraft have raised safety concerns among the country's military pilots, who refused to fly in a training operation last October in a bid to speed up the new acquisitions.

Posted by orrinj at 6:13 AM


Here's Anthony Bourdain's Foreword to Marilyn Hagerty's Book 'Grand Forks' (Hillary Dixler Canavan,  Aug 19, 2013, Eater)

If you're looking for the kind of rapturous food porn you'd find in a book by M.F.K. Fisher, or lusty descriptions of sizzling kidneys a la Liebling--or even the knife-edged criticism of an AA Gill or a Sam Sifton--you will not find it here.

The territory covered here is not New York or Paris or London or San Francisco. And Marilyn Hagerty is none of those people.

For 27 years, Marilyn Hagerty has been covering the restaurant scene in and around the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, population 52,000. She also, it should be pointed out, writes a total of five columns a week, about history and local personalities and events, in addition to her writing about restaurants and food. As one might expect, she knows personally many of her subjects. Given the size of her territory, it is not unusual for her to write about the same restaurant two or more times in a single year. In short, she is writing about a community that she is very much a part of.

If you knew her name before picking up this book, it was probably because of her infamously guileless Olive Garden review which went viral, caused first a tidal wave of snarky derision--followed by an even stronger anti-snark backlash--followed by invitations to appear on Anderson Cooper and The TODAY Show, dinner at Le Bernardin, an appearance on Top Chef, an Al Neuharth Award, a publishing deal--a sudden and unexpected elevation to media darling.

Why was that?

What is it about the 86-year-old Ms. Hagerty that inspired such attention and affection?

Why should you read this book?

Of the 7,000 pages of articles and reviews I read while assembling this collection, there is little of what one would call pyrotechnical prose. Ms. Hagerty's choices of food are shockingly consistent: A "Clubhouse sandwich," coleslaw, wild rice soup, salads assembled from a salad bar, baked potatoes. She is not what you'd call an adventurous diner, exploring the dark recesses of menus. Far from it. Of one lunch, she writes:

"There were signs saying the luncheon special was soup and a Denver sandwich for $2.25. In places where food service is limited, I tend to take the special. I wasn't born yesterday."

She is never mean--even when circumstances would clearly excuse a sharp elbow, a cruel remark. In fact, watching Marilyn struggle to find something nice to say about a place she clearly loathes is part of the fun. She is, unfailingly, a good neighbor and good citizen first--and entertainer second.

But what she HAS given us, over all these years, is a fascinating picture of dining in America, a gradual, cumulative overview of how we got from there... to here.

Grand Forks is NOT New York City. We forget that--until we read her earlier reviews and remember, some of us, when you'd find sloppy Joe, steak Diane, turkey noodle soup, three bean salad, red Jell-o in OUR neighborhoods. When the tuft of curly parsley and lemon wedge, or a leaf of lettuce and an orange segment, or three spears of asparagus fashioned into a wagon wheel, were state of the art garnishes. When you could order a half sandwich, a cup of soup. A pre-hipster world where lefse, potato dumplings and walleye were far more likely to appear on a menu than pork belly.

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 AM


Posted by orrinj at 6:00 AM


Trump's not wrong about pardoning himself (Michael W. McConnell, June 8, 2018, Washington Post)

When President Trump tweeted that he has the constitutional authority to pardon himself, he likely weakened his case in the minds of most ordinary people. Why would he talk about pardons if he hasn't done anything for which he might need one? But as a legal and constitutional matter, Trump is not wrong. Presidents do have the constitutional authority to pardon themselves, albeit at the considerable risk of impeachment if they do so.

The president's pardon power was intentionally made broad, even though the framers of the Constitution were well aware that it could be abused. They understood the pardon as an essential final check against miscarriages of justice and overly harsh applications of the letter of the law -- and more importantly, as a device for national reconciliation after episodes of political unrest. George Washington used the power this way after the Whiskey Rebellion, Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War, and Jimmy Carter after Vietnam.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says the president "shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." The exception for impeachment shows that the clause extends to presidential misconduct, and suggests the ultimate remedy is impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate, rather than criminal prosecution.

Given that a pardon requires an admission of guilt--acceptance of the pardon--this is exactly how the case should proceed and then Congress can just remove him without hearings.

Posted by orrinj at 5:49 AM


All Icelanders Are Now Organ Donors (JELENA ĆIRIĆ, June 07, 2018, Iceland Review)

As of next year, all Icelanders will be assumed organ donors unless they explicitly state otherwise. The Icelandic parliament approved a new law yesterday which assumes all individuals consent to organ donation upon their death, Vísir reports. The new regulations take effect on January 1, 2019.

Good public policy needs to exploit the natural lassitude of the hoi polloi.

Posted by orrinj at 5:47 AM


Top Hill Democrat Says Mueller Should Consider Perjury Charges Against Trump-Russia Witnesses: Adam Schiff blasts Devin Nunes for not releasing investigation transcripts. (DAVID CORNJUN. 7, 2018, Mother Jones)

In the letter, Schiff noted that Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas), who led the Russia investigation for the committee's Republicans, and other GOPers on the panel had repeatedly promised to make these transcripts public at the end of the inquiry. But, Schiff wrote, they have "abandoned this pledge under the unsupported pretext of protecting the Special Counsel's investigation." Schiff reported that he has asked Mueller if he has any objections to the committee releasing the transcripts and that Mueller has none.

"[U]ntil the Majority lives up to its commitment to make the transcripts public," Schiff wrote, "they must be shared with Special Counsel to assist his investigation and, as appropriate, to allow him to assess whether witnesses violated federal law by providing false testimony."

Questions have been raised about the accuracy of testimony presented to the committee by such key witnesses as Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and Roger Stone. And Democratic members of the committee have long grumbled that the Republicans in control have declined to follow up on testimony that the Democrats suspect was inaccurate or misleading. They note that the Republicans declined their requests for call-back interviews and for subpoenas of records and documents that could be used to verify or challenge testimony.

In an interview with Mother Jones, Schiff remarked that he had previously asked Nunes to provide specific transcripts to Mueller regarding witnesses who might have testified untruthfully but that Nunes would not commit to sharing this material with Mueller. Schiff also said that Mueller has signaled to the committee an interest in the testimony of particular witnesses. But Schiff noted that he "can't elaborate" regarding which witnesses and that the committee has not yet received any formal requests from Mueller for transcripts. If Mueller did make such a request, Schiff explained, it would be up to Nunes to decide whether or not to comply.

In the interview, Schiff said that the Democratic members of the committee are conducting legal research to determine whether there are any mechanisms that would allow the Democrats on their own to provide transcripts to Mueller in cases involving possible perjury or obstruction of justice. "If the transcripts contain possible evidence of a crime," he remarked, "there might be methods to share them with the special counsel." He criticized the GOP committee majority for reneging on its commitment to make public the transcripts and claimed one reason for this is that the transcripts "reveal how often the majority acted as defense lawyers for the witnesses."

Posted by orrinj at 5:41 AM


Hamilton and a lesson in citizenship (Greg Weeks, Apr 6, 2018, ST. Louis Post-Dispatch)

This was one of the most inspiring events I'd ever witnessed. People from around the world, many with unpronounceable names, sat excitedly. They held small American flags in anticipation of the time they would take the oath. One young Asian man even wore patriotic socks: One sock had stripes and the other, stars. Most were smiling broadly, and some were even crying.

I looked into these faces and imagined what they'd gone through to get to this point. They'd left their land for a nation "conceived in liberty." They found themselves in a foreign culture along with a possibly foreign language. They studied our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and our government. They learned our history and heard the risks our forbears took to enable this experiment in democracy.

These soon-to-be citizens showed me how easy it is for us born-in-America citizens to take our country for granted. Growing up, American history was a bit boring for me, and civics was almost a near-death experience. For them, however, being a citizen of the United States was a coveted goal for which they had struggled. For me, it was something I was given. Being a citizen for them was a source of pride. For me, it was an entitlement.

This was humbling. All Americans have a civic duty. It's easy to abdicate that duty when we enjoy the fruits of living in this country without regarding the responsibilities necessary to maintain them.

Christians especially bear this obligation.