October 11, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 11:12 AM


Michelle Obama Rebukes Clinton and Holder: 'Fear Is Not a Proper Motivator' (Jeffrey Cimmino, October 11, 2018, Washington Free Beacon)

"Today" co-host Savannah Guthrie asked Obama if her motto from a 2016 Democratic National Convention speech, "when they go low, we go high," still stands.

"Absolutely," Obama said. "Fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out, and if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?"

"Which motto do you want them to live by?" Obama continued. "I have to think about that as a mother, as someone who's a role model to young girls. We want them to grow up with promise and hope, and we can't model something different if we want them to be better than that."

Posted by orrinj at 10:11 AM


Bannon Slams 'Horrific' Timing of Haley's Resignation Announcement (Jennifer Epstein  and John Micklethwait, October 10, 2018, Bloomberg)

Donald Trump's former chief strategist slammed Nikki Haley's decision to announce her resignation as U.S. ambassador to the UN on Tuesday as "suspect" and "horrific," saying it overshadowed positive news the president needs to help rally support ahead of next month's midterm elections.

"The timing was exquisite from a bad point of view," Steve Bannon said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at the Bloomberg Invest London forum. "Everything she said yesterday and everything she said about stepping down could have been done on the evening of November 6. The timing could not have been worse."

Bannon said Haley's announcement, which took top White House officials by surprise, distracted attention from Brett Kavanaugh's first day as a justice on the Supreme Court and last week's news about the lowest U.S. unemployment rate in five decades. Her move undermines Trump's message to voters with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives at stake, Bannon said.

Duh?  She timed it for maximum effect.

Posted by orrinj at 10:04 AM


Ironically, the GRU Gets Bitten by the Internet (Scott Stewart, 10/09/18,  Stratfor)

Last week was a rough one for Russia's military intelligence service. On Oct. 4, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of seven officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate (known as the GRU by its Russian acronym) in connection with hacking operations. At the same time, Dutch intelligence services released a report on the April arrest of four of the men that included their passport information and photos of their hacking equipment. Then independent investigators, using the internet and social media, dug up additional information on the GRU's cyberwarfare unit, confirming the identity of one of the suspects in a nerve agent poisoning in the United Kingdom and identifying the second suspect for the first time.

These developments emphasize how social media and open-source information on the internet -- though inherently neutral -- can be used for either good or ill. It is highly ironic that the GRU, which has been quite successful in using social media to stir up discord inside the United States and Europe, also has been embarrassed by open-source reporting. These recent developments also show how technological innovation is changing the spying game, and intelligence services are moving -- sometimes not so quickly -- to adapt. [...]

Sadly for Morenets, the receipt was not the end of his woes. A student in an intelligence seminar reportedly found an online dating profile for him, which happened to contain a selfie profile picture that showed the GRU building in the background. The student sleuth was associated with Bellingcat, an organization that uses open sources and social media to conduct online investigations. Working with the citizen journalism organization The Insider Russia, Bellingcat was able to confirm that Morenets was his real name, and not a pseudonym. They also discovered that his vehicle was registered to Komsomolsky Prospekt 20 in Moscow; that address is associated with Unit 26165 of the GRU, which U.S. and Dutch law enforcement say is its cyberwarfare department. Bellingcat reported that a search for other vehicles registered at that address turned up 305 names, potentially providing an extensive list of GRU cyberwarfare personnel -- an embarrassing breach of operational security for the intelligence agency.

Posted by orrinj at 9:08 AM


Real Democratic agenda: Lower health costs, less corruption, more jobs and fairness (Cheri Bustos, Hakeem Jeffries and David Cicilline, Oct. 11, 2018, USA Today)

Democrats believe America is strongest with a health care system that prioritizes people -- not one that taxes and takes advantage of  patients. We will fight to protect your right to quality and affordable health care by reining in the costs of prescription drugs, building on the current system to make it work better for everyone, and protecting those with pre-existing conditions from Republican attempts to strip them of care.

Democrats believe America is most prosperous when every American has a shot at success and plays by the same fair rules. We know that our economy is stronger when everybody's hard work is respected and pays off with higher wages, higher incomes and decent retirement benefits. We will invest in our crumbling infrastructure to create 16 million well paid jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and ports all around this country.

And Democrats believe that government exists to serve the American people, not just those with the biggest checkbooks. On day one, we will take steps to end the culture of corruption in Washington. We will strengthen ethics laws to remove the corrosive influence of lobbyists and special interests from Congress, stop foreign money from influencing our elections and create more transparency and accountability for our leaders.

Maybe the most status quo agenda any out of power party has ever run on. Which is entirely appropriate given the health of the global economy.

Posted by orrinj at 9:04 AM


Trump's tariffs now cost Americans more than Obamacare taxes (Bryan Riley & Andrew Wilford, October 10, 2018, Washington Examiner)

It's official: The latest round of tariffs now means that the total tax increase on Americans from enacted tariffs exceeds the tax increases from the Affordable Care Act, (un)popularly known as "Obamacare."

Posted by orrinj at 8:38 AM


Poll suggests Haley could be formidable challenger to Trump (ELIANA JOHNSON, 10/10/2018, Politico)

The survey, which polled likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa as well as Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, found that nearly half -- 47 percent -- would consider another option to Trump in 2020. Of those polled, Haley topped the list among the probable early state voters, with 52 percent saying they would consider her as an alternative to Trump. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who announced on Tuesday that she is resigning her position at the end of the year, also had the smallest percentage of respondents -- 25 percent -- say they would not consider her at all.

...than to follow the racist idiocy of this presidency with a President Haley.

Posted by orrinj at 8:04 AM


  • Microsoft just open-sourced 60,000 of its patents

    Microsoft just open-sourced 60,000 of its patents. (2018). Fast Company. Retrieved 11 October 2018, from https://www.fastcompany.com/90249831/microsoft-just-open-sourced-60000-of-its-patents

[A]ndersen goes on to say that Microsoft's view of the open-source community has shifted:

Joining OIN reflects Microsoft's patent practice evolving in lock-step with the company's views on Linux and open source more generally . . . At Microsoft, we take it as a given that developers do not want a binary choice between Windows vs. Linux, or .NET vs. Java-they want cloud platforms to support all technologies. They want to deploy technologies at the edge-on any device-that meet customer needs. We also learned that collaborative development through the open source process can accelerate innovation.

With Microsoft's contribution of 60,000 patents, the OIN has seen its patent library multiple almost 50 times over. Previously, OIN only had ownership of 1,300 global patents.

Posted by orrinj at 4:39 AM


Moscow failures see Putin's men lose in Russian Far East (GIOVANNI PIGNI OCTOBER 4, 2018, Asia Times)

[P]utin's candidates failed to win gubernatorial elections in the two largest administrative regions of the Far Eastern Federal District: the Maritime Territory and Khabarovsk Region.

This sends a clear signal to the Kremlin.

Despite massive political attention, state subsidies and high profile investments including spaceports and shipyards, Moscow has failed to effectively address multiple socio-economic problems affecting the region.

The Russian Far East lies in close proximity to economic powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea, but continues to suffer population drain, high levels of corruption, poor infrastructure and a standard of living that is among the lowest in the country.

"I think everything will be fine," is what Putin told his candidate Andrey Tarasenko, as he prepared to run against Communist Andrey Ishchenko for the gubernatorial post of the Maritime Territory, the district's largest region.

Things turned out differently. With 95% of the vote counted, Ischenko was clearly ahead. Tarasenko came out the winner in the final result, but only due to to a display of election rigging so blatant that it was unacceptable even by Russian standards. The Central Election Committee was left with no choice but to invalidate the election.

In Khabarovsk, an even more straightforward failure awaited United Russia candidate and sitting Governor Vyacheslav Shport. He lost to Sergei Frugal of the Liberal Democrats.

Communists and Liberal Democrats are the two main constituents of the "systemic opposition" which give Russia the appearance of a functioning democracy without posing a real threat to the hegemonic rule of the pro-Putin United Russia party.

The fact that Putin's candidates lost against representatives of the systemic opposition is interpreted by many as a consequence of the highly unpopular pension reform promoted by United Russia.

But others warn that grievances about the rise of the retirement age are adding up to a pre-existing, much deeper discontent about how Moscow has been administering the country's remotest region.

Posted by orrinj at 4:37 AM


PODCAST: Episode 63: Snowflake Jacobins (Jonah Goldberg, October 2, 2018, The Remnant)

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of The Remnant, Jonah invites Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff on to discuss The Coddling of the American Mind.

The Coddling of the American Mind: In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don't like. Here's why that's disastrous for education--and mental health. (GREG LUKIANOFF AND JONATHAN HAIDT, SEPTEMBER 2015, The Atlantic)

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 AM


Deluded liberals can't keep clinging to a dead idea : Anyone looking to classical liberal thinkers to deliver the West from its present difficulties is fixated on an irretrievable past (John Gray, 03 OCTOBER 2018, UnHerd)

Writing in the introduction to On Liberty, Mill tells us that he grounds his argument for freedom not on "abstract right" but "utility - the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded in the permanent interests of man as a progressive being". What is "man", though? Certainly not an empirically observable species.

All that can actually be observed is the miscellaneous human animal, with its many contending values and ways of life. Again, there are many understandings of progress. If Mill believed it meant increasing freedom and individuality, for the founder of modern utilitarian ethics, Jeremy Bentham, it meant maximising the satisfaction of wants. Mill spent much of his adult life vainly trying to reconcile the two.

Mill's liberalism did not rest on experience or observation. Though he was not raised as a Christian - his father, a disciple of Bentham, made sure of that - Mill was like other Victorian thinkers in relying on ideas that make little sense outside of a theistic world-view. The belief that "man" is a collective agent working out its destiny in history is a relic of Christianity, unknown in polytheistic cultures and non-western religions such as Buddhism and Taoism.

The very idea that humans share a common historical destination is a remnant of monotheism. Reframing the universal clams of western religion, Mill's secular liberalism - like his science of society - was not the result of any process of rational inquiry but an expression of faith.

Viewed historically, the liberal era was a moment in the aftermath of post-Reformation Christianity. If Europe had not been Christianised, it would most likely have been shaped by the polytheistic and mystery cults of the ancient world. Today it might resemble India. A universalistic, evangelising impulse would be weak or absent. Whether it would have been better or worse - or both - the West would not have produced political faiths like liberalism, that aim to project their values throughout the world.

Core liberal values, such as freedom of belief and expression, are by-products of early modern struggles within Christian monotheism. This fact could be passed over as long as successive versions of liberal values were underwritten by Western power. In Mill's day they rested on European colonialism, and following the collapse of communism on the supposed triumph of free-market capitalism. The illusion persisted that the rise of liberalism revealed a universal law of human development.

In the event, a liberal world order has lasted only as long as Western hegemony. 

The main problem with Jonah Goldberg's Suicide of the West is his failure to accept that the West he seeks to defend can only be grounded in Christianity. The problem for reactionaries like Mr. Gray is that no one has offered any alternative to Western hegemony (democracy, capitalism, protestantism).

Posted by orrinj at 4:17 AM


US student detained at Ben Gurion airport asked to denounce Israel boycott (Middle East Eye, 9 October 2018)

A 22-year-old American student has been detained at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for a week and prohibited from entering Israel on the grounds that she supports the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) movement.

Lara Alqasem, who has Palestinian grandparents and holds a visa to study in Israel, appealed her entry refusal to an Israeli court on Tuesday.

However, the court decided to keep her in custody for the remainder of the appeals process, according to an NBC report.

Our ideals can not be squared with Israel's reality, so they are right to worry.

Posted by orrinj at 4:13 AM


Beto O'Rourke May Benefit From an Unlikely Support Group: White Evangelical Women (Elizabeth Dias, Oct. 9, 2018, NY Times)

After church on a recent Sunday, Emily Mooney smiled as she told her girlfriends about her public act of rebellion. She had slapped a "Beto for Senate'' sticker on her S.U.V. and driven it to her family's evangelical church.

But then, across the parking lot, deep in conservative, Bible-belt Texas, she spotted a sign of support: the same exact sticker endorsing Beto O'Rourke, the Democrat who is challenging Senator Ted Cruz.

"I was like, who is it?" she exclaimed. "Who in this church is doing this?"

Listening to Ms. Mooney's story, the four other evangelical moms standing around a kitchen island began to buzz with excitement. All of them go to similarly conservative churches in Dallas. All are longtime Republican voters, solely because they oppose abortion rights. Only one broke ranks to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But this November, they have all decided to vote for Mr. O'Rourke, the Democratic upstart who is on the front line of trying to upend politics in deep-red Texas. [...]

The women, who are all in their 30s, described Mr. O'Rourke as providing a stark moral contrast to Mr. Trump, whose policies and behavior they see as fundamentally anti-Christian, especially separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, banning many Muslim refugees and disrespecting women.

"I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb," said Tess Clarke, one of Ms. Mooney's friends, confessing that she was "mortified" at how she used to vote, because she had only considered abortion policy. "We've been asleep. Now, we've woke up."

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM


Paul Johnson on Why We Should "Beware Intellectuals": From his countless books documenting centuries of history to his masterful ability to challenge the pseudo-intellectual left, Paul Johnson is worthy of high praise and celebration. (Lawrence W. Reed  , 10/09/18, FEE)

Johnson's perspective is often described as "conservative," but I find his work simply good, factual reporting of history, unvarnished by ideology. He doesn't cherry-pick the evidence to support a preconception, let alone a misconception. Conventional wisdom (which is to say, "left-leaning") suggests you're "mainstream" and "objective" if you claim with the flimsiest of documentation that Franklin Roosevelt saved America from the Great Depression and that you're a "conservative ideologue" if you just report the facts. Johnson reports the facts, so he gets the label his "progressive" critics hope will deter readers rather than enlighten them.

In his early days, Johnson's political outlook was, by his own admission, leftist or "progressive." But this is a man who not only writes history, he learns from it. The more Johnson learned, the less credible the progressive perspective was. By the mid-1970s, he was a cogent critic of the Left and its union allies, who were bringing Britain to its knees. He later became a friend, advisor, and speechwriter to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

My favorite of the Johnson books I've read is unquestionably his 1989 classic, Intellectuals. It's an insightful examination of the personalities and behavior of more than a dozen left-leaning thinkers--the super-pontificating, state-worshiping types that are full of prescriptions for the rest of us. Among the better-known of them are Rousseau, Marx, and Sartre; the less well-known include Bertolt Brecht, Victor Gollancz, and Lillian Helman.

Johnson is himself a consummate intellectual, the honest and scholarly kind committed to truth for the sake of it--unlike the charlatans, hypocrites, and monsters he writes about. He proves that you can be an intellectual without falling hopelessly in love with yourself, tossing self-awareness to the wind, or fancying yourself God's gift to a stupid humanity in need of your wisdom. Of the more delusional ones, he offers a cogent insight:

What conclusions should be drawn? Readers will judge for themselves. But I think I detect today a certain public skepticism when intellectuals stand up to preach to us, a growing tendency among ordinary people to dispute the right of academics, writers and philosophers, eminent though they may be, to tell us how to behave and conduct our affairs. The belief seems to be spreading that intellectuals are no wiser as mentors, or worthier as exemplars, than the witch doctors or priests of old. I share that skepticism. A dozen people picked at random on the street are at least as likely to offer sensible views on moral and political matters as a cross-section of the intelligentsia. But I would go further. One of the principal lessons of our tragic century, which has seen so many millions of innocent lives sacrificed in schemes to improve the lot of humanity, is--beware intellectuals. Not merely should they be kept away from the levers of power, they should also be objects of particular suspicion when they seek to offer collective advice.

History is conservative.

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM

Posted by orrinj at 3:54 AM


Climate Change Is Bad for Our Mental Health (Katie Heaney, 10/10/18, The Cut)

The study's lead author, Nick Obradovich, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, told CNN it's not totally clear why increasing temperatures result in increasing mental-health issues, but the data is clear. Using recent national meteorological data as well as mental health data from the CDC, the study's authors found that a one-degree Celsius increase in average temperature was linked to a two percentage point increase in the public prevalence of mental-health issues over a five-year period.