February 11, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:21 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:04 PM


Ilhan Omar Apologizes After Being Accused Of Anti-Semitism Over AIPAC Tweet (Aiden Pink, 2/11/19, The Forward)

"Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes," she wrote. "My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize."

Posted by orrinj at 1:28 PM


Hormones, surgery, regret: I was a transgender woman for 8 years -- time I can't get back (Walt Heyer, Feb. 11, 2019, USA Today)

I started my transgender journey as a 4-year-old boy when my grandmother repeatedly, over several years, cross-dressed me in a full-length purple dress she made especially for me and told me how pretty I was as a girl. This planted the seed of gender confusion and led to my transitioning at age 42 to transgender female.

I lived as "Laura" for eight years, but, as I now know, transitioning doesn't fix the underlying ailments.

Studies show that most people who want to live as the opposite sex have other psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety. In my case, I was diagnosed at age 40 with gender dysphoria and at age 50 with psychological issues due to childhood trauma.

Eventually, my parents found out, and my unsupervised visits to Grandma's house ended. I thought my secret was safe, but my teenage uncle heard about it and felt I was fair game for taunting and sexual abuse. I wasn't even 10 years old. If not for the purple dress, I believe I would not have been abused by my uncle.

Read more commentary:

Trump's anti-transgender memo would hurt teens like me. I'm hoping my state protects me.

My high school's transgender bathroom policies violate the privacy of the rest of us

High school could have been hell for my transgender son. Don't make it hell for the next kid.

That abuse caused me to not want to be male any longer. Cross-dressing gave me an escape.

The embrace of transgenderism is the opposite of love.

Posted by orrinj at 1:21 PM


The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights.: Pakistan's powerful military is trying to crush a nonviolent movement for civil rights. (Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, Feb. 11, 2019, NY Times)

I lost my home in 2009 when a major operation by the Pakistan military forced us to leave our village in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Around 37 million Pashtuns live in this region that includes the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas -- which have now been merged with the province -- and parts of southwestern Baluchistan province. Our impoverished region has been desolated by the long war on terrorism. [...]

In January 2018 Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model and businessman from Waziristan who was working in Karachi was killed by a police team led by a notorious officer named Rao Anwar. Mr. Anwar, who is accused of more than 400 extrajudicial murders, was granted bail and roams free.

Along with 20 friends, I set out on a protest march from Dera Ismail Khan to Islamabad, the capital. Word spread, and by the time we reached Islamabad, several thousand people had joined the protest. We called our movement the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, or the Pashtun Protection Movement.

Ours is a peaceful movement that seeks security and political rights for Pashtuns. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:13 PM


House Democrats Urge Party Leaders To Condemn Anti-Semitism (Susan Davis, 2/11/19, NPR)

Two Jewish House Democrats are circulating a letter to their colleagues asking them to join in asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the party leadership to condemn anti-Semitism citing "recent rhetoric from certain members within our Caucus."

The letter, by Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Elaine Luria of Virginia, does not name lawmakers but it is clearly a reference to freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who is the target of recent criticism on the left and right for comments seen as both overt and subtly anti-Semitic.

Posted by orrinj at 1:05 PM


A look back at the day Frank Robinson cried when he took catcher Matt LeCroy out of a game (Brittany Ghiroli Feb 8, 2019, The Athletic)

He shouldn't have been playing that game. Not with his knees the way they were, and certainly not with that arm injury. But LeCroy didn't want to pass up the opportunity and Robinson had no choice. The Nationals were bad and, worse yet, they were banged up. Starting catcher Brian Schneider was on the disabled list. Backup Wiki Gonzalez was dealing with a mild concussion suffered two days prior.

That left LeCroy, who hadn't thrown out a baserunner all year. The Astros were well aware of his shortcomings, turning the late-May contest into a track meet. Seven steals, two throwing errors and a crowd of 24,733 anxiously wondering if the Nationals would indeed blow a six-run lead, forced Robinson into the unthinkable: he yanked LeCroy off the field in the middle of the inning.

Right there, in the top of the seventh, Robert Fick -- who hadn't caught a pitch in a big league game all season -- came on to relieve LeCroy and try to save the game. In a game of unwritten rules, the mid-inning switch was one that tugged at the conscience, with players admitting later that it was tough to watch and not feel bad for LeCroy.

But LeCroy wasn't upset. He was well aware he wasn't doing his job. What the South Carolina native wasn't aware of was how much the decision had torn up Robinson. LeCroy was in the weight room when media relations director John Dever sheepishly came in after the game. "Can you answer some questions tonight?" Dever asked LeCroy. "Frank got emotional."

LeCroy turned around. "What do you mean, Frank got emotional?"

Dever played back the post-game press conference. There he was: hard-nosed Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, crying. Not because the Nationals had won three games in a row for just the second time all season. No, Robinson wept at the thought of humiliating LeCroy, of disrespecting a fellow player and the game he loved so much.

"I hated that he got emotional, I told him I wasn't good enough for somebody to cry over," said LeCroy, who was blown away by the size of the scrum of reporters waiting at his locker when he arrived. "It was a crazy day. I didn't think much about the situation. Didn't realize that it was going to be such a big deal. That's when I said the daddy quote."

The exact, priceless line from LeCroy was, "If my daddy was managing this team, I'm sure he would have done the same thing." The snippet circulated the Internet along with the footage of Robinson, tears welled in the corner of his eyes and spilling out onto his cheeks.

Posted by orrinj at 4:24 AM


Europe Does Not Exist (JOSEF JOFFE, January 2019, Commentary)

Modern history knows no example where nation-states voluntarily coalesced into one. The United Kingdom is the product of endless war among the warring tribes of the Isles. Germany's 25 city-states and kingdoms were fused by "iron and blood" in 1871, to invoke Bismarck's famous phrase. In the beginning, the Thirteen Colonies did strike a peaceful deal in Philadelphia. But in the end, it took a murderous civil war to fuse North and South into one nation. In those four years, more Americans died than in all wars thereafter. 

Unification will not be achieved by committees hashing it out in Brussels. Or by national parliaments emasculating themselves for the sake of the greater European good. To bestride the world as a heavyweight like the United States requires cracking the hard shells of sovereignty, notably in matters of defense and public finance. 

Never in our lifetime will this Europe go to war because a majority of member states says so. Nor will elected governments hand over spending and taxation to Brussels--not when their fate at the ballot box hangs on the state of the business cycle. No national parliament will give up the power of the purse, the Holy Grail of democratic governance.

Cracking these shells would require fusing 27 post-Brexit states into one, complete with a supreme legislature like Congress and an elected executive like the U.S. president. Yet power in Europe remains rooted in the European Council representing 27 governments jealously guarding their turfs. 

For all the hysteria the Right expends and the hope the Left nurtures, national sovereignty is too strong to succumb to transnational rule.  Only free trade requires an overarching structure.

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


More Trump Schedules Leaked--Fifty Percent of Plans Taken Up by 'Executive Time' (Daily Beast, 2/11/19)

More of Donald Trump's schedules have been leaked, showing the president spent around 50 percent of last week on "executive time." Axios, which obtained three months of Trump's private schedules last week in a leak that infuriated Trump and White House officials, has published four more of the president's private schedules from last week. 

Some staffer is having a ball.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


California Governor to Pull Troops From Border, Slams Trump's 'Manufactured Crisis' (Daily Beast, 2/11/19)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will pull back all National Guard troops who have been deployed to the Mexican border, saying his state will play no part in Donald Trump's "manufactured crisis." In his State of the State address Tuesday, Newsom will say the 360 National Guard troops in California will be redeployed to fight "real threats" such as wildfires and the war on drugs.

Besides being the right thing to do, the governors are further weakening the case for any emergency order chicanery.

Posted by orrinj at 3:56 AM


Shutdown talks take a turn for the worse (MARIANNE LEVINE, HEATHER CAYGLE and BURGESS EVERETT,  02/10/2019, Politico)

Among the issues Democratic negotiators are focused on is Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S., not just crossing the border. They also insist they want a cap on detention beds to force ICE to prioritize which undocumented immigrants it targets within the U.S., and they say that without it, the agency will increase deportation raids in local communities without valid reason.

The latest impasse suggests Democrats are not seeing much incentive to concede to the Trump administration's requests for billions of dollars in border wall money, after winning the last round of shutdown negotiations. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Iraq Rebuffs U.S. Demands to Stop Buying Energy From Iran (Edward Wong, Feb. 11, 2019, NY Times)

Iraq's defiance further jeopardizes Mr. Trump's goal of getting all nations to comply with sanctions after withdrawing from the deal to limit Tehran's nuclear program last year. Already, European nations have set up a legal financial mechanism to do business with Iran, and China and India are resisting American efforts at prodding them to cut off oil purchases.

The WoT is about empowering our Shi'a allies to help democratize the Middle East.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


In Closed Hearing, a Clue About 'the Heart' of Mueller's Russia Inquiry (Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Scott Shane, Feb. 10, 2019, NY Times)

Of the few hints to emerge from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about evidence of possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia, one of the most tantalizing surfaced almost in passing in a Washington courtroom last week.

Comments by one of Mr. Mueller's lead prosecutors, disclosed in a transcript of a closed-door hearing, suggest that the special counsel continues to pursue at least one theory: that starting while Russia was taking steps to bolster Mr. Trump's candidacy, people in his orbit were discussing deals to end a dispute over Russia's incursions into Ukraine and possibly give Moscow relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.

Trump, Deferring To Putin, Deleted GOP Platform's Call To Supply Ukraine With Lethal Defensive Weapons (Paul Roderick Gregory, 7/18/16, Forbes)

According to multiple accounts, the Trump campaign has successfully worked behind the scenes to make sure the new Republican platform would not pledge the lethal defensive weapons Ukraine has been pleading for from the United States. Trump's forces have tabled a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, and have substituted "appropriate assistance" for  "providing lethal defensive weapons" to Ukraine's military. Removing sanctions and blocking lethal military assistance to Ukraine are the two primary goals of Putin's foreign policy. The Republican platform is handing those goals to Putin on a golden platter.


Trump urges Russia to hack Clinton's email (MICHAEL CROWLEY and TYLER PAGER, 07/27/2016, Politico)

Donald Trump invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails on Wednesday, asking one of America's longstanding geopolitical adversaries to find "the 30,000 emails that are missing" from the personal server she used during her time as secretary of state.


Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Why Elizabeth Warren Abandoned Her Native-American Story: This is what happens when identity politics runs up against actual law. (ROBERT TRACINSKI  FEBRUARY 11, 2019, The Bulwark)

The answer is contained in the wording of her apology.

"I can't go back," Warren said in an interview with the Washington Post. "But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted."

This is what happens when modern feel-good identity politics posturing comes up against an ethnic identification that has a specific legal identity.

In claiming that she was Native American, Warren had been playing by the rules of academia, in which ethnicity (and a great deal else) is subjectively self-identified and you can more or less claim to be whatever you want. Those standards usually apply in the way racial and ethnic identification is treated in the culture. Rachel Dolezal--excuse me, Nkechi Amare Diallo--can claim she's black and there's no legal structure that can dictate otherwise. Not unless everyone wants to return to the "one drop rule." (Though some racial set-asides have been pushing us in that direction.)

But Native-American status does not work according to those rules, because it's not merely an ethnic identification but a special legal status that dates back before the founding of the United States of America.

Native American tribes are not immigrant groups. Legally, native tribes have the recognized status of sovereign nations which were incorporated within the United States by treaty as they were surrounded, integrated, and sometimes defeated in war by the expansion of American settlements. This special status has historically conferred certain legal disadvantages--members of Native American tribes were not covered by birthright citizenship and were not necessarily citizens of the United States until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924--as well as certain legal advantages, such as exemption from some taxes and from regulations on tobacco and gambling.

Because of that special legal status, Native American tribes are recognized by state and federal governments and have carefully maintained membership rolls. You can't just say, "I have high cheekbones," or refer to stories your grandparents told you, or take a DNA test.

Ultimately, this defined legal status is what scuppered Warren. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Behind the scenes: Troubles ahead for Trump's NAFTA replacement (Jonathan Swan, 2/10/19, Axios)

About 10 days ago, a deputy to Trump's top trade negotiator gave a shockingly optimistic forecast on the political fate of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) -- the president's renegotiated NAFTA deal. To the bemusement of two sources on the call, C.J. Mahoney, Robert Lighthizer's deputy, said he figured the USMCA could get through Congress with huge bipartisan support by the end of April.

Nobody we've spoken to on Capitol Hill thinks Mahoney's prediction is remotely possible. The two sources on the call called his comments "naïve," saying they betrayed only a tenuous grasp of the USMCA's troubled politics.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Omar ignites new anti-Semitism controversy with comments on AIPAC (JOHN BRESNAHAN,  02/10/2019, Politico)

Freshman Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar ignited a new controversy on Sunday night when she suggested GOP support for Israel is driven by campaign donations from a prominent pro-Israel group.

Omar singled out AIPAC, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, as the source of those donations.

Omar's comments touched upon a long-running, and particularly ugly, thread of the anti-Semitic movement -- that Jewish money fuels backing for Israel in the United States and elsewhere.

She, of all people, should recognize that the support for Israel is far more insidious than crackpot theories about Jewish money. The Right approves of how Israel treats its Muslim population. The Judaism is coincidental.