March 7, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:52 PM


Lawyer Who Questioned Donald Trump About Felix Sater Says He Told 'Flat Untruth' Under Oath (Rhonda Schwartz and Brian Ross, March 7th, 2019, Law & Crime)

The lawyer who questioned Donald Trump under oath in a civil deposition says it is now clear Trump lied about his relationship with Felix Sater, a convicted felon once connected to the Russian mafia.

"If somebody tells a flat untruth under oath then that's the very definition of perjury," Jared Beck said in an interview on the Law&Crime Network program Brian Ross Investigates.

In his testimony, Trump said he barely knew Sater and stated, "If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn't know what he looked like."

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen testified last week before Congress that at the time of the deposition, in 2013, Trump did know Sater, who Cohen said had an office in the Trump organization on the same floor as Trump, the 26th floor.

ABC News reported that the Trump Organization had even printed business cards for Sater, identifying him as a "senior adviser" to Donald Trump.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM


House overwhelmingly approves anti-Semitism resolution (JTA, 3/07/19)

Omar was among 234 Democrats -- the entire caucus -- who favored the resolution.

All 23 nays were Republicans...

Posted by orrinj at 12:46 PM


I've Faced the Charge of Dual Loyalty (RAHM EMANUEL, 3/07/19, The Atlantic)

Maybe I'm sensitive to this charge of dual allegiance because it's been wielded against me in some of my political campaigns. I've been accused of actually being a citizen of Israel. (That's not true, although my father was an Israeli immigrant to the United States.) In 2002, well before Donald Trump and other "birthers" questioned Barack Obama's citizenship, I had to produce my U.S. birth certificate in my first run for Congress to disprove false assertions about my background and loyalties.

But it's not just me who's been subject to questions of dual loyalty.

Indeed, it's the experience of all Muslims.

Posted by orrinj at 4:22 AM


Senior Blue and White member: Party backs 2 states to separate from Palestinians (Times of Israel, 3/07/19)

MK Ofer Shelah of Yesh Atid, one of three authors of the Blue and White party's campaign platform, said Thursday the party would work to spearhead a "regional process" that would enable Israel to "separate from the Palestinians" and lead to the formation of "two states" -- in the first clear statement of support for the two-state solution by a senior party official since its formation.

Posted by orrinj at 4:20 AM


John Kelly, Out of White House, Breaks With Trump Policies (Maggie Haberman, March 7, 2019, NY Times)

Mr. Kelly defended the utility of the NATO alliance, which Mr. Trump has often criticized as an unfair financial drain on the United States.

On a wall at the border with Mexico, Mr. Kelly said that there were specific areas where it could be effective but constructing one "from sea to shining sea" was a "waste of money."

The issuance of the zero-tolerance policy for border crossings that resulted in family separations "came as a surprise" to him and to other officials, Mr. Kelly said, defending his replacement as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, from criticism. He appeared to place most of the blame on the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who announced the policy.

Of people crossing the border who are apprehended, Mr. Kelly contradicted the president. "They're overwhelmingly not criminals -- they're people coming up here for economic" purposes. Mr. Trump has regularly portrayed immigrants crossing at the southern border as dangerous lawbreakers.

He also joked wryly about the advice he gave his successor, Mick Mulvaney: "Run for it," Mr. Kelly said, to laughter. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:11 AM


The Absolute Best Way to Cook Bacon (ELLA QUITTNER, MARCH 07, 2019, Slate)

Oven: No Parchment Paper
Bacon on a plate with a label: Baking Sheet in Oven - No Parchment 400 degrees F. The strips are slightly curled but mostly flat.

Method: We placed the bacon strips directly on a rimmed sheet pan, and baked them in a preheated oven at 400°F.

Outcome: We've proselytized the oven-baking method before, so we had high hopes, and this sheet-pan bacon met them. After about 18 minutes, the fat had rendered extremely evenly, producing a perfectly chewy/crispy specimen.

Pros: This method was very hands-off--we didn't need to flip the bacon midway through, or fiddle with temperature--yet still hugely effective. The lack of stovetop-surrounding grease splatter was so welcome.

Cons: While the actual cooking of baked bacon takes about five minutes longer than the stovetop method, we also had to wait for our oven to preheat for approximately 10 minutes, so this isn't a method we'd recommend for those moments when you need bacon ASAP. (What, like you don't have those moments?) Also, the bacon stuck in one or two spots to the sheet pan, and cleaning the sheet pan was no easier than cleaning the cast iron skillet.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


In recording, Gantz notes need for large lead over Likud, backs West Bank deal (Times of Israel, 3/07/19)

Major settlement blocs would not be evacuated, Gantz vowed to the activists, and said he nevertheless sought ways to separate from the Palestinians and believed any agreement should be put to a national referendum.

"I know every meter on the road [to Peduel], where you turn right, through Bruchin, Peduel, Alei Zahav, Beit Aryeh, Ofarim," he told the reporter. "So I know what I'm talking about here. Those people will raise their grandchildren there, and their great-grandchildren and their great-great-grandchildren."

He added: "On the other hand, we don't want to control the Palestinians, or any of the things that will turn the state into a binational state. We will find the arrangement that gives security."

Blum pushed back, fishing for details: "My family [in Peduel], from its perspective. What do we do with the Palestinians living next to us?"

Gantz replied, "What do you want? To expel them? Working on the assumption that they live on that land, and that there are millions here on both sides [of the Arab-Jewish divide], in the end we have to reach an arrangement of some sort. And we can't let that arrangement endanger our security."

Asked about the future of the settlements and a possible Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, he said, "Much of the settlement [project] will be developed far more than it is today. And if it becomes relevant, we'll discuss what we do after that. And even that we'll take to a referendum. In other words, it isn't something that will be relevant tomorrow morning, if at all."

Blum went on: "My family is mostly, in the end, voting for [New Right's leader Naftali] Bennett and farther right."

"Bennett and farther to his right risk turning Israel into a binational or nondemocratic state. One of the two. We don't want either one. We don't have a choice except to look for a responsible, safe, non-unilateral diplomatic arrangement," Gantz replied.

There is nothing in an Israel at peace with a nation of Palestine for the current critics of Ilhan Omar to support.

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


Far-rightists cleared for Israel election, Arab party blocked (Dan Williams, 3/07/19, Reuters) 

The elections committee, made up of members of the outgoing parliament, struck down motions that had sought to bar as racist Jewish Power's Michael Ben-Ari and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who are adherents of late anti-Arab rabbi Meir Kahane.

Left-wing party Meretz said it would appeal, along with center-left Labour, to the Supreme Court against the decision to let the Jewish Power candidates stand.

The committee also voted 17-10 to bar Arab party Balad from the election in accordance with a motion filed by Netanyahu's ruling Likud party.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


What's socialism anyway? (MARK MELLMAN, 3/07/19, The Hill)

Eduard Bernstein, the preeminent theorist of democratic socialism, made the same point 120 years ago: "If we asked a number of people ... to give a brief definition of socialism, most of them would be in some difficulty. ... If we consult the literature of socialism itself, we will find very different accounts of the concept. ... They will vary from ... legal ideas (equality, justice) to ... its identification with the class struggle ... to the explanation that socialism means cooperative economics."

Bernstein's socialist program was so mainstream (i.e., not radical) that much of it was achieved in America long ago: universal suffrage, workers' rights to form unions, an end to child labor for those under 14 and improved conditions for agricultural workers. 

Bernstein explicitly rejected Marx and revolution, preferring evolution, and unlike some current American socialists,  opposed "full state maintenance" of the unemployed, saying it  was damaging the will to work of those voluntarily unemployed.

Soviet socialism was radically different, as are other visions of socialism. Saint-Simon's socialism and Proudhon's and Owens's and Bakunin's and Debs's and Olof Palme's socialisms were all quite different from each other.  [...]

Asked by Gallup to define socialism, the largest number of respondents --  about a quarter of both Democrats and Republicans -- said it meant equality. Another 13 percent of Democrats, but only 7 percent of Republicans, saw it as government services, like free health care.

About 6 percent believe socialism means being social, including activity on social media.

Relatively few Democrats (13 percent), but more Republicans (23 percent) believe socialism implies government ownership.

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 AM


'Not my fault': Trump struggles to defend his record amid setbacks on immigration, trade, North Korea (David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey March 6, 2019, Washington Post)

On immigration, the administration has sought to block asylum seekers at legal ports of entry along the border, prompting them to try to find alternative pathways into the country. The president shut down parts of the federal government for 35 days -- the longest such closure in U.S. history -- in an ill-fated fight for border wall funding, even though experts said the surge of migrant families is not a threat to national security and that a wall would do little to curb it.

On trade, Trump's tariff war with China has harmed U.S. farmers as Beijing slashed agricultural imports. Although the president has signaled that a trade deal is close, analysts said an accord would not fundamentally alter the U.S. trade relationship with the world's second-largest economy.

And on North Korea, officials have said, the president's decision to rush forward with bilateral summits with Kim have led to difficulties for U.S. negotiators engaging with their counterparts over technical and complicated nuclear matters, as Kim has preferred to deal directly with Trump.

Simon Rosenberg, founder of NDN, a liberal think tank, noted that the tax cut has not met GOP projections for economic growth and could add significantly to the ballooning federal deficit.

"The reality is he can't point to a single thing that's better today than when he came to office," Rosenberg said.

Although he has projected confidence, Trump has fretted in private over his difficulties. 

Fortunately, the UR left him such a strong economy he's only been able to slow it, not kill it.

Posted by orrinj at 12:05 AM


Democrats Put Off Anti-Semitism Resolution After Fierce Backlash (Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Glenn Thrush, March 6, 2019, NY Times)

[M]r. Trump has been accused repeatedly of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. His 2016 campaign tweeted out an image of Hillary Clinton in front of a Jewish star, over a pile of money. His final campaign ad railed against "global special interests" as the faces of George Soros, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen -- all Jewish -- crossed the screen. In 2015, Mr. Trump told members of the Republican Jewish Coalition: "You're not going to support me because I don't want your money. You want to control your politicians, that's fine."

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is again running for the Democratic presidential nomination, took the opposite tack and suggested House Democratic leaders were trying to tamp down legitimate discussion of the conduct of the Israeli government.

"What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate," Mr. Sanders said in a statement. "That's wrong."

Earlier in the day, Democrats, including some prominent African-Americans, confronted Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a testy closed-door meeting, demanding to know why they were being pushed to pass the resolution when bigoted comments by Republicans have gone unchallenged.

Representative Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, said she told leadership that there must be "equity in our outrage," noting that Ms. Omar, a Minnesotan and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, was being attacked for her faith.

"Islamophobia needs to be included" in the anti-Semitism resolution, she told reporters on Wednesday. "We need to denounce all forms of hate."

That it is just about criticism of Israel is best revealed by the demand she be removed from the Foreign Affairs committee.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Trump Administration Reportedly Tracked and Targeted Journalists and Activists Involved With Migrant Caravan (ELLIOT HANNON, MARCH 06, 2019, Slate)

[A]ccording to a chilling report from NBC 7, NBC News' local affiliate in San Diego. Documents leaked to NBC 7 show that the Trump administration went about gathering names of journalists, activists, and attorneys who had covered or worked with the fleeing migrants, and created a database that included dossiers on 57 people, including 10 journalists.

Those swept up in the government database where then targets for surveillance and harassment with at least 21 individuals subsequently questioned or arrested by Customs and Border Protection. The U.S. government, in some cases, placed alerts on the targeted individuals' passports who were listed in the database titled: "San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media." The documents dated Jan. 9, 2019 included files on some 39 American citizens, including seven who were tracked by the U.S. government. The documents are part of an interagency "SharePoint" application accessible to a myriad of agencies, including agents from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, and the San Diego office of the FBI.

They were violating the law or abetting its violation. What would one expect law enforcement to do?  This is like when the Trumpbots winge about the UR investigating leaks.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


So Far, Donald Trump's Trade War Is an Utter Failure (JORDAN WEISSMANN, MARCH 06, 2019, Slate)

Donald Trump has waged a trade war unlike any the United States has seen since the 1930s, upsetting our global allies and panicking markets as he's gleefully slapped tariffs on steel and Chinese products.

And by just about any measure you pick, his effort appears to have been an absolute flop.

Consider the trade deficit, which Trump has promised to shrink. On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that it actually grew by $68.8 billion in 2018, reaching $621 billion, as imports continued to outpace exports. In December, the monthly gap hit a 10-year high. The timing of the announcement was almost poetic: It came just over a year after Trump tweeted that "trade wars are good, and easy to win." As he is learning, they are not.

Because the president is obsessed with manufacturing jobs, the White House likes to focus on the trade deficit in goods alone--ignoring the contributions of services like finance and education. But on that score, its performance looks even worse. The goods gap soared to an all-time high of $891.3 billion last year. It grew with China. It grew with Mexico. It grew with Canada. Like Wile E. Coyote with a box of ACME dynamite, Trump tried to blow up the global trade order, and instead came out looking like a used matchstick.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The president's sons entrusted their private hunting retreat to a caretaker. He was working in the country illegally. (Joshua Partlow, Nick Miroff and David A. Fahrenthold March 6 , 2019, Washington Post)

Quintero, 42, was so trusted by the Trumps that he had not one but two jobs working for the family. He was a greenskeeper at the Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., where he would work eight-hour shifts on weekdays. Then he would put in five more hours each day as a contractor at the 171-acre hunting retreat called Leather Hill Preserve, which serves as a private weekend playground for President Trump's sons and the property's co-owners.

He also was an immigrant from Mexico who had crossed the border more than two decades ago and was working illegally in the United States.

In January, Quintero lost his golf course job after 18 years of employment -- part of a purge of undocumented workers from Trump's businesses amid revelations that the company relied on illegal labor for years, well into Trump's presidency. Gone, too, was his side job at the hunting retreat.

"All of the years you give them, and they just let you go," Quintero said in a recent interview at his home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "They do not say, 'Let's do something, let's try to help you.' They simply said, 'Your documents are not valid,' and that is it."