February 7, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:31 PM

60-40 NATION:

Kamala Harris, Frontrunner: She's got money, a good staff, and lots of TV time. She's also not bad at Twitter. (LIZ MAIR  FEBRUARY 7, 2019, The Bulwark)

Harris is also garnering the kinds of attacks already that suggest her opponents--within her party and outside of it--see her as a major threat. Most specifically, she has already become the target of new "birther" attacks. After the Obama and Ted Cruz birther experiences of 2008 and 2016, respectively, that feels like a solid indicator that opponents feel the need to discredit her straight out of the gate.

But the nature of the attacks also helps point back to her personal background, as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. To be clear, I don't believe the famed "black-brown coalition" that Obama assembled and which helped propel him to two presidential wins voted for him because of his mixed-race heritage or skin color. But I do believe his status as a younger, charismatic, non-white guy may have helped him get an extra look from minority voters, who then liked what they saw. A lot.

Harris can  replicate this, and in 2020, it may matter more than ever. African-American women have arguably been a deciding factor in swinging races in Alabama (where 98 percent of them voted for Sen. Doug Jones), Virginia (where 91 percent voted for Gov. Ralph Northam) and New Jersey (where 94 percent voted for Gov. Phil Murphy), all according to exit polls.

Harris' campaign slogan, "For the People" both strikes a populist tone (appropriate, given the current mood of the most die-hard Democratic voters) and taps into her record as a prosecutor, a job that naturally associates itself with toughness.

That, in turn, seems to be a personal quality that a lot of women, including African-American women, both empathize with and prioritize--but also one that voters disenchanted with Trump  (and God knows that's African-American women, of whom about 90 percent disapprove)--are likely to want in a Democratic nominee.

Yes, critics--particularly concern-trolling #MAGA-types--will say the Democratic Party shouldn't, and isn't going to bite on an Obama-redux: a Senate newbie, of mixed-race heritage and a darker skin tone, from a very liberal state.

But the fact is, Obama won the presidency twice, created a blueprint that can potentially be followed again, and Democrats want the White House back bad enough they may not want to get super-creative in forging a pathway to it.

Her politics guarantee hysteria from the Left and her ethnicity and gender from the Right.  It's the perfect place to be.

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 PM


'I Fell Short': Jill Abramson Responds To Charges Of Plagiarism, Inaccuracies (LAUREL WAMSLEY, 2/07/19, NPR)

Jill Abramson, former New York Times executive editor, finds herself embroiled in controversy over charges of inaccuracies and plagiarism in her new book Merchants of Truth, out this week.

The book was skewered by Vice correspondent Michael Moynihan in a series of tweets Wednesday that showed passages where Abramson's language strongly echoed that of articles penned by others.

In an interview Thursday with NPR's Michel Martin, Abramson admits she "fell short" in attributing her sources for some passages of the book.

Posted by orrinj at 6:21 PM


WHITE NATIONALISM IS DRIVEN BY A PERCEIVED LOSS OF STATUS: New research suggests that nationalism can be a psychological coping response. (TOM JACOBS, 2/07/19, Pacific Standard)

White populists complain they are losing ground to minorities in terms of status and power. At the same time, they assert with increasing belligerence that their country is the greatest in the world. On its face, this pair of claims is puzzling: Why would your allegiance grow to a society you feel is treating your people poorly?

According to a new study, it makes perfect sense from a psychological perspective. Researchers Nikhil Sengupta of the University of Oxford and Danny Osborne and Chris Sibley of the University of Auckland argue that the negative feelings arising from perceived group decline can be counteracted by the conviction that your country is strong and powerful.

In other words, if one group you identify with (whites) no longer provides the same comforting sense that you are a part of a powerful "we," you can latch onto the strength of a different group you identify with--Americans, or Poles, or, in the case of this study, New Zealanders. And when you do, it's more important than ever to proclaim the mightiness of that substitute entity.

The new findings "provide an explanation for the rise of nationalism," the researchers write in the journal Political Psychology. "Endorsing beliefs about national superiority is one way a nation's dominant ethnic group can cope with the negative psychological consequences of perceiving that their group is deprived."

Posted by orrinj at 4:08 PM


PODCAST: Episode 84: Social Justice: It's a Put-On (HOSTED BY JONAH GOLDBERG, February 6, 2019, The Remnant)

Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary, joins The Remnant for some light punditry and some heavy nerdery on the misuses of social justice, apropos his new book, Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America.

The overlap between the Social Justice Left and the Trumpian Right is hilarious.  Seen one identitarian you've seen them all.

Even better was the Ocasio-Cortez interview on NPR this morning where she accidentally compared Donald and his useless but symbolic Wall with her and her own Green New Deal.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 PM


Wearing a Trump hat? That's not exactly pro-life (JOHN STOWE, JANUARY 23, 2019, Lexington Herald-Leader)

I am ashamed that the actions of Kentucky Catholic high school students have become a contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest. As such, I believe that U.S. Catholics must take a look at how our support of the fundamental right to life has become separated from the even more basic truth of the dignity of each human person.

Without engaging the discussion about the context of the viral video or placing the blame entirely on these adolescents, it astonishes me that any students participating in a pro-life activity on behalf of their school and their Catholic faith could be wearing apparel sporting the slogans of a president who denigrates the lives of immigrants, refugees and people from countries that he describes with indecent words and haphazardly endangers with life-threatening policies.

We cannot uncritically ally ourselves with someone with whom we share the policy goal of ending abortion.

Good discussion here of the damage Donald is doing to the pro-life movement and it is doing to itself by embracing him.

Posted by orrinj at 1:17 PM


Netanyahu whitewashing far-right activists (Shlomi Eldar, February 7, 2019, Al Monitor)

After former army chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz was named on Feb. 5 to head HaBayit HaYehudi, the Likud urged the party to join forces with Otzma Leyisrael, which consists of Kahane's disciples and fans, to prevent the weakening of the right. Netanyahu thus bleached the mark of shame that Israeli society had imprinted on Kahane's racist movement, granting his successors a political clemency that they probably never imagined was possible.

Otzma Leyisrael, Hebrew for "power to Israel," is a union of two parties formed by former Knesset members Michael Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad ahead of the 2013 elections to the 19th Knesset. However, the party did not win sufficient votes to get into the Knesset. Its campaign slogan was "We will wipe out a thousand terrorists and not a single hair on the heads of our soldiers will fall." Ahead of the 2015 elections to the 20th Knesset, one of its members, Baruch Marzel, a student of Kahane and chair of the Kach party, was named to fourth place on the Knesset slate of a party established by the former head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Eli Yishai. This party, too, did not garner sufficient votes to get into the Knesset.

Otzma Leyisrael is now headed by its founder, Michael Ben-Ari, who holds a Ph.D. in Israel studies and archaeology. While still in high school, he was active in the Kach movement. In the run-up to the 2009 Knesset elections, he laid out his philosophy in an interview with the Ynet website. "The saying, 'Kahane was right,' has already been used up. You can practically see how what Rabbi Kahane brought up 24 years ago has now become the central issue of this election campaign," he said. Ben-Ari espouses undermining the standing and rights of Israel's Arab minority. He calls for their transfer to other countries, as well as for Israeli soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate Jewish settlements.

Another senior party figure is attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who gained notoriety over his role in the wild incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s. Television reporter Hezi Mahlev documented him at the age of 19 participating in a demonstration of radical activists, most of them residents of the West Bank city of Hebron, against Rabin. In a particularly memorable photo, he is seen brandishing an emblem he took off Rabin's armored Cadillac, saying, "Just as we reached this emblem, we can reach Rabin." A few months later, in November 1995, a right-wing assassin killed Rabin.

Ben-Gvir, who was a parliamentary aide to Ben-Ari during his short term, carried out many of the provocations he engineered over the past 20 years with Marzel, the last chair of Kach before it was banned. In 2015, Ben-Gvir said he had been served with 53 indictments for disruption of public order, destroying property, inciting racism, supporting a terror organization and more. He was convicted in eight of the indictments.

After spending years as a radical activist, Ben-Gvir studied law at the Kiryat Ono Academy and was admitted to the bar. He has since represented radical right-wingers in courts, among them one of the suspects in the July 2015 murder of the Palestinian Dawabsheh family by Israeli Jewish terrorists, and the Israeli youth suspected of killing a Palestinian woman, Aisha Rabi, from the West Bank village of Bidya in October 2018. 

Yet another member of Otzma Leyisrael is Bentzi Gopstein, also a Kahane disciple and founder of Lehava, a movement dedicated to "preventing assimilation in the holy land," in other words, the coupling of Jews with Arabs. Gopstein has extended his party's activities over time to Jewish boycotts of Arab-owned businesses.

There is not enough time or space to describe the crimes and misdeeds of this party's members. Most did not do their mandatory military service, and the Shin Bet security agency monitors their activity, viewing them as dangerous individuals motivated by hatred of Arabs and xenophobia.

This week, the members of this radical group could not believe their luck when Netanyahu handed them a seal of approval. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:15 PM


Virginia (JV Last, 2/07/19, The Bulwark)

I will remind people that Virginia is also home to George "Macaca" Allen. It's a gathering place for people who want to take down statues . . . of Lincoln. The major state thoroughfare is named for a traitor. (Imagine Connecticut naming a highway for Benedict Arnold to honor the state's "heritage.") And let's be honest: There's a reason the neo-confederate, white nationalist rally was held in Charlottesville and not Worcester or Trenton or Cleveland.

Posted by orrinj at 4:08 AM


Posted by orrinj at 3:59 AM


Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy. (T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi, February 6, 2019, ProPublica)

The collision of the vessels was the Navy's worst accident at sea in four decades. Seven sailors drowned. Scores were physically and psychologically wounded. Two months later, a second destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, broke that grim mark when it collided with another cargo vessel, leaving 10 more sailors dead.

The successive incidents raised an unavoidable question: How could two $1.8 billion Navy destroyers, protected by one of the most advanced defense systems on the planet, fail to detect oncoming cargo ships broadcasting their locations to a worldwide navigational network?

The failures of basic seamanship deeply embarrassed the Navy. Both warships belonged to the vaunted 7th Fleet -- the most powerful armada in the world and one of the most important commands in the defense of the United States from nuclear attack.

ProPublica reconstructed the Fitzgerald's journey, relying on more than 13,000 pages of confidential Navy investigative records, public reports, and interviews with scores of Fitzgerald crew members, current and former senior Navy officers, and maritime experts.

The review revealed neglect by Navy leadership, serious mistakes by officers -- and extraordinary acts of valor and endurance by the crew.

The Fitzgerald's captain selected an untested team to steer the ship at night. He ordered the crew to speed through shipping lanes filled with cargo ships and fishing vessels to free up time to train his sailors the next day. At the time of the collision, he was asleep in his cabin.

The 26-year-old officer of the deck, who was in charge of the destroyer at the time of the crash, had navigated the route only once before in daylight. In a panic, she ordered the Fitzgerald to turn directly into the path of the Crystal.

The Fitzgerald's crew was exhausted and undertrained. The inexperience showed in a series of near misses in the weeks before the crash, when the destroyer maneuvered dangerously close to vessels on at least three occasions.

The warship's state of readiness was in question. The Navy required destroyers to pass 22 certification tests to prove themselves seaworthy and battle-ready before sailing. The Fitzgerald had passed just seven of these tests. It was not even qualified to conduct its chief mission, anti-ballistic missile defense.

A sailor's mistake sparked a fire causing the electrical system to fail and a shipwide blackout a week before the mission resulting in the crash. The ship's email system, for both classified and non-classified material, failed repeatedly. Officers used Gmail instead.

Its radars were in questionable shape, and it's not clear the crew knew how to operate them. One could not be made to automatically track nearby ships. To keep the screen updated, a sailor had to punch a button a thousand times an hour. The ship's primary navigation system was run by 17-year-old software.

The Navy declined to directly answer ProPublica's questions about its findings. Instead, a spokesman cited previous reports that the Navy published during its own months-long review of the collisions.

The Navy inquiries determined that there had been widespread problems with leaders regarding shortfalls in training, manning and equipment in the 7th Fleet. The Navy fired admirals, captains and commanders, punished sailors and criminally prosecuted officers for neglecting their duties.

Adm. John Richardson, head of the Navy, called the two collisions "avoidable tragedies." The ships' commanders and their superiors, he said in a written statement to ProPublica, were responsible for the results.

Posted by orrinj at 3:58 AM


CEOs Scramble to Avoid Trump's Tariffs to Survive His Trade War (Mark Niquette  and Andrew Mayeda, February 7, 2019, Bloomberg)

The president's duties on $250 billion of Chinese goods -- with an increase in tariffs to come unless a trade deal with Beijing is reached by March 1 -- have affected U.S. companies big and small. Apple Inc. lowered its first-quarter outlook after demand for the iPhone in China slowed more sharply than expected, and the company's suppliers in China are considering shifting production. [...]

For companies caught in the trade war, the options for mitigating exposure to tariffs range from a simple change in paperwork to creative "tariff engineering" and the overhaul of supply chains often developed over decades. It's forced some executives to consider how far they can push the legal boundaries to avoid paying tariffs of as much as 25 percent.

"It would almost be something that would be a firing offense if you're in charge of supply-chain management and you don't point out to someone that you could save 25 percent tariffs,'' said Amanda DeBusk, a former Commerce export enforcement official who now is chair of Dechert LLP's international trade practice.

Primex has already tried some first steps that companies often take to mitigate the tariffs: trying to pass on the added costs and checking if their products were properly classified under U.S. tariff codes. Some items incorrectly categorized in the past went unnoticed because no duties were applied, said Randy Rucker, a trade lawyer representing Primex.

The company also filed 79 requests with the Office of U.S. Trade Representative for exclusions from the tariffs. Decisions are based on whether a product is available only from China, if duties "would cause severe economic harm" to the company or U.S. interests, and whether the item is strategically important. All of Primex's requests were denied.

"We were like, 'You're about to put a 75 year-old company out of business?,''' Shekoski said. "Why would it not be economic harm?''

Taxes and regulations are a small price to pay for racial hygiene.

Posted by orrinj at 12:06 AM


Germany could miss even reduced NATO defense spending goal: document  (Reuters, 2/07/19) 

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has cast doubt over the government's already watered-down pledge to NATO allies of spending 1.5 percent of economic output on defense by 2024, a Finance Ministry document obtained by Reuters showed on Monday.

Posted by orrinj at 12:04 AM


House Intel Democrats Just Restarted and Supercharged the Trump-Russia Probe (Spencer Ackerman, 02.06.19, Daily Beast)

[A]n announcement from Schiff shortly after the Wednesday morning vote underscored the ginormous reach of the 2.0 version of the investigation.

The investigation will examine the "scope" of the Kremlin's influence campaigns on American politics, both in 2016 and afterwards, and "any links/and or coordination" between anyone in the Trump orbit--the campaign, transition, administration, or, critically, the president's businesses--and "furtherance of the Russian government's interests." It will also look at whether "any foreign actor," not only Russians, has any "leverage, financial or otherwise" over Trump, "his family, his business, or his associates"--and whether such actors actively "sought to compromise" any of those many, many people.

A related line of inquiry will examine whether Trump, his family, and his advisers "are or were at any time at heightened risk of" being suborned by foreign interests in any way. That includes a vulnerability to foreign "exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion." All that makes it very likely that the committee examines Trump administration policy--think the Syria pullout, or ex-national security adviser and admitted felon Mike Flynn's attempts to work with Russia's military in Syria, or Trump's infamous Helsinki meeting with Vladimir Putin--through that lens.

Schiff said that the committee will also probe whether anyone, "foreign or domestic," currently or formerly sought to "impede, obstruct and/or mislead" the intelligence committee's investigation or any others, meaning Mueller's or the Senate intelligence committee's own inquiries. And that raises the prospect of examining whether the aforementioned witnesses before the panel obstructed it. Fellow Democrats on the committee have told The Daily Beast their desire to get several witnesses back before the panel whose testimony they consider questionable. Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley said last month there were "nine or ten" such witnesses on his radar, including the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

And with questions swirling about how heavily Trump attorney general nominee Bill Barr will withhold Mueller's final investigative report, Schiff indicated that the committee will form a sort of backstop for the public. He also indicated he'll work with other House committees, likely the oversight and judiciary panels, "on matters of overlapping interest," Schiff said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


The exquisite shade of Nancy Pelosi's applause at the State of the Union (Monica Hesse, February 6, 2019, Washington Post)

The lasting visual image from Tuesday night's State of the Union address was captured by photographer Doug Mills. It featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applauding President Trump in a way that can only be described as . . . withering? Pitying? Lucille Bluth-like in its contemptuousness?

At his lectern, the president mentioned bipartisanship and turned to acknowledge Speaker Pelosi; she rewarded him by cocking her head, arching an eyebrow, and inventing, as comedian Patton Oswalt would put it online, a clap that somehow managed to be a profanity.

Its power was in its restraint. Pelosi was not booing the president. She was acknowledging his words. She was providing him, in the technical sense, with exactly what he was hoping for: approval. But this was a derogatory clap, make no mistake. This was mockery wearing a half-baked costume of politeness.

Even in her district, the way she abuses him is frowned upon.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Hillary Clinton Blackface Hoax Explodes After Virginia Scandals (Will Sommer, 02.06.19, Daily Beast)

Now right-wing internet hoaxers claim they've found something even bigger: a picture of Hillary Clinton purportedly wearing blackface, next to a smiling Bill Clinton dressed as a country bumpkin.

And you wonder that the Trumpbots are so detached from reality?

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Leaders of this city on Southern border want wall's razor wire removed or they'll sue (AP, Feb 7, 2019)

The City Council in Nogales, which sits on the border with Nogales, Mexico, wants the federal government to remove all concertina wire installed within the city limits.

Otherwise, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said the city will sue.

City officials say Army troops installed more horizontal layers of the wire along the border wall last weekend.

The council's resolution says the razor wire would harm or kill anyone who scales the wall and "is only found in a war, prison or battle setting" and should not be in downtown Nogales.