March 5, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 5:16 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:11 PM


France's burning hate (Noƫlle Lenoir, 3/05/19, tHE STRATEGIST)

Emmanuel Macron's unexpected victory in the 2017 French presidential election, with 66% of the vote, made France seem, at least to some, a safe haven from the populism roiling European politics. His triumph came as a relief to a large majority of the French, as well as to other governments in the European Union and around the world.

But Macron's victory incited a form of near-hysterical derangement among his opponents on the extreme right and left. The increasingly violent, racist and anti-Semitic 'Yellow Vest' protests are the visible manifestation of that rage.

Posted by orrinj at 4:58 PM


Ilhan Omar Has a Point (JORDAN WEISSMANN, MARCH 05, 2019, Slate)

In early 2015, as the Obama administration was deep into negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stridently opposed the deal, to address a joint session of Congress. The speech itself, which was intended to convince Congress to scuttle the agreement, turned out to be a dud. Instead of shaming Democrats into opposing the deal, Bibi seemed to unify them in support of it. But the public spectacle of a foreign leader attempting to undermine the American president on U.S. soil at the request of his political adversaries was symbolically striking. Later, polling would show that GOP voters generally felt more warmly about Netanyahu than their actual commander in chief. "Republicans haven't just rejected Obama. They have adopted Netanyahu as their leader," Slate's Will Saletan wrote at the time.

"Does a majority of the Republican Party identify more with Israeli interests than with American interests?" he continued. "When Israel's prime minister speaks on the floor of Congress, do Republicans feel more allegiance to him than to their president? If so, will the feeling subside once Obama leaves office? Or does it signify an enduring rift in the fabric of this country?" [...]

In recent years, Israel's most conservative backers (the vast majority of whom are not Jewish) have taken steps that unfortunately blur the distinction between supporting a country and showing loyalty to it. Welcoming Netanyahu to Washington in 2015 was one example. Boehner made the unprecedented decision to invite the Israeli prime minister without first informing the White House, to ensure that "there was no interference" from the administration. Some suggested the move may have been unconstitutional. It is normal and healthy for Congress and the White House to clash over foreign policy. It is not normal, however, for opposition lawmakers and a foreign leader to publicly work hand in hand to undermine the diplomatic efforts of a sitting U.S. president. This does not mean Republicans were actively trying to undermine America's interests on behalf of Israel; they saw them as one in the same. But given a choice between Netanyahu and Obama, as Saletan wrote, it was pretty clear whom Republicans felt more loyalty to.

The raging fight over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement--or BDS--is a more recent and clear-cut example where Israel's backers have placed its interests above those of their countrymen. Supporters of BDS--including Omar and her colleague Rep. Rashida Tlaib--are trying to borrow a page from the anti-apartheid playbook by economically isolating Israel so it will be forced to make a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel's backers see BDS as inherently anti-Semitic, in part because they believe it is an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state's existence and because other countries aren't facing boycotts for their human rights abuses. (There aren't a lot of campus activists protesting China's decision to throw the Uighurs in re-education camps, for instance.*) It's a complicated issue, but pushed by pro-Israel activists, at least 25 states have come down hard on it by passing laws aimed at barring businesses and individuals from government contract work if they take part in BDS. A speech pathologist is currently suing the state of Texas because she allegedly lost her job after refusing to sign a contract promising not to support a boycott of Israel.

What do you call a law that prioritizes the economic well-being of Israel over the free speech rights of individual Americans? 

Posted by orrinj at 4:41 PM


Goldman Sachs: First quarter of 2019 is a "GDP pothole" (Dion Rabouin, 3/05/19, Axios)

The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model is known for predicting GDP readings that start out exceedingly high and eventually recoil back to trend.

But Monday's reading shows expectations for just 0.3% growth in the first quarter of 2019. It followed a weak U.S. construction spending report that badly missed expectations.

Since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act was signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017, the metric has largely trended upward, but has fallen significantly since the beginning of the third quarter in 2018.

Donald is the only thing that can stop the American economy.

Posted by orrinj at 4:35 PM


Crossing Divides: Has the UK changed its mind on immigration? (BBC, 4 March 2019)

Almost half the people in the UK believe immigration has been positive for the country, a poll for the BBC's Crossing Divides season suggests.

Just over a quarter of nearly 1,500 people who took the Ipsos-Mori online survey felt it had a negative impact.

The findings are in line with other surveys suggesting Britain has changed from being generally negative about immigration before the Brexit vote.

In 2011, 64% of Britons told Ipsos-Mori immigration had been bad for the UK.

Just the illusion that Brexit has given Britain control of its borders is sufficient.  It's just an aesthetic matter for all but the hard core.
Posted by orrinj at 4:22 PM


House panel taps veteran prosecutor to lead Trump probe (Nathan Layne, Mark Hosenball, 3/05/19, Reuters) 

The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said on Tuesday it had hired a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan with experience investigating Russian mobsters and white-collar crime to lead its probe into the Trump administration.

The hiring of Daniel Goldman is the latest move by the House's new Democratic majority to add legal firepower to an expanding list of investigations into the affairs of Republican President Donald Trump and his associates.

64 Percent Of U.S. Voters Say Trump Committed A Crime, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds (Quinnipiac University Polling, 3/05/19)

President Donald Trump committed crimes before he became president, American voters say 64 - 24 percent in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. 

Republicans say 48 - 33 percent that President Trump did not commit crimes before he was president, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University National Poll finds. Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says by wide margins that Trump committed crimes. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:17 PM


Mystery Mueller Opponent Says U.S. 'Ignores' Warning of 'Foreign-Policy Nightmare' if Case Moves Forward (Ronn Blitzer, March 5th, 2019, Law & Crime)

In a court filing on Tuesday, the home country of the company, referred to in court documents as "Country A," claimed that the United States doesn't have jurisdiction over other countries in criminal matters. They also said that the U.S. government, in their pursuit of this case, "strangely ignores" the specter of "reciprocal treatment" if the matter is allowed to move forward.

Vlad really thinks our elite cabal is accidentally poisoning relations?

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


'Spectacular blow' to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau as star minister Jane Philpott quits cabinet over his handling of SNC-Lavalin scandal (Associated Press, 5 Mar, 2019)

Another member of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet resigned Monday over his handling of a scandal that has shaken the government in an election year.

Treasury Board president Jane Philpott, considered a star minister, said in a resignation letter that it was "untenable" for her to continue in the Cabinet because she could not defend the government.

Philpott's friend, former Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, testified last week that Trudeau and senior members of his government inappropriately tried to pressure her to avoid prosecution of a major Canadian engineering company in a case involving allegations of corruption in Libya.

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 AM


Kavanaugh Comes Out Strong for Religious Liberty in Comment (Charles Fain Lehman, March 4, 2019, Free Beacon)

[I]n a statement regarding the denial of certiorari, Kavanaugh and colleagues Justices Alito and Gorsuch made clear that they thought the general principle of religious non-discrimination was a well-supported and important one.

"The New Jersey Supreme Court concluded that the State's discrimination [in blocking funding] did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments," Kavanaugh wrote. "In my view, the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court is in serious tension with this Court's religious equality precedents."

Kavanaugh traces this basic principle--that churches cannot be treated differently simply by dint of religious affiliation--to a bevy of cases on everything from prohibiting ministers from serving as delegates to a constitutional convention, to a New York school district that sought to deny a religious group use of a public high school, to the recent religious liberty win in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, in which the court found that a Lutheran church could not be excluded from receiving public funding for refurbishing its playground.

"As this Court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion--in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech--violates the Free Exercise Clause and the Equal Protection Clause," he wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 12:04 AM


Rock star Jack White is helping restore a Detroit-area Negro Leagues Stadium (Matt Monagan, March 4, 2019, Cut4

80 years ago, Hamtramck Stadium, located about six miles northeast of Detroit, was a mecca of baseball talent. It was home to the Detroit Stars/Wolves -- one of the best teams to ever play in the Negro National League -- for three seasons. Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes starred for the home team, Satchel Paige brought his bag of tricks as a visitor and Josh Gibson unleashed his power on the stadium's maddening dimensions.

But, besides some rec leagues and a few amazingly dominant Little League teams in the 1950s, the field -- one of the few remaining from the Negro Leagues era -- has fallen into disuse. The grass has become overgrown, graffiti litters the grandstand and the sounds of baseball have grown silent.

On Monday, though, Stearnes' daughter Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown and the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium announced a new campaign to raise $50,000 to restore the park. And right away, they got a hefty $10,000 donation from a Detroit legend.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Trump's Fatal Attraction (MONA CHAREN, March 1, 2019, The Bulwark)

The world is full of misery, and American leaders sometimes have to deal with unsavory characters. But nothing required President Trump to pick up the phone in 2017 and say to Duterte, "You are a good man . . . . You are doing an unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing, and I just wanted to call and tell you that."

Explaining the need for a wall on the southern border, Trump offered this odd report from a conversation with China's Xi Jinping, who apparently told the president that China has no drug problem because they employ the death penalty. He found this exhilarating. "If we want to get smart, we can get smart," Trump said. "You can end the drug problem, can end it a lot faster than you think."

It would be less disturbing if Mr. Trump's chief weakness were for porn stars and money. Alas, his attraction to thugs seems even stronger.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


'Where are the women's teams?': Trump ignores women's champions in White House sports ceremonies (David Nakamura, March 4, 2019, Washington Post)

Not a single women's championship team has made a solo visit to the White House under Trump, although several women's teams participated in an event in 2017 during which Trump celebrated numerous men's and women's college champions in nonrevenue sports.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump's Grip Shows Signs of Slipping as Senate Prepares to Block Wall Emergency (Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Emily Cochrane, March 4, 2019, NY Times)

"It simply sends a message that Congress is going to stand up for its institutional prerogatives and abide by the separation-of-powers framework that was carefully worked out by the framers in the Constitution," Ms. Collins said on Monday. "I truly don't see this as sending a message at all one way or the other about border security but rather about executive overreach."

Ross K. Baker, a political scientist and expert on Congress at Rutgers University, said passage of the resolution would amount to a "serious rebuke" of the president.

"It's Congress saying: 'This has gone far enough. We're not going to roll over and play dead for the president,'" Mr. Baker said. "It's the kind of thing that James Madison had in mind when he laid out in the Federalist Papers the argument for separation of powers and checks and balances."