March 12, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:55 PM


Support for Trump dwindles among ICE officers (Stephen Dinan, 3/11/19, The Washington Times)

ICE officers who endorsed President Trump in 2016 now say he has failed to follow through on his get-tough promises, saying catch-and-release of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. is not only still happening, but has gone into "overdrive."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers say they're being roped into such mundane tasks as opening the doors on vans to release immigrants already caught by Border Patrol agents. That's dragging the officers from their usual duties of nabbing fugitives, or scouring local prisons and jails for immigrant criminals who lived illegally in the U.S. ready to be deported.

The shell game is all the more "ridiculous," the officers said, because Border Patrol agents could fill out paperwork and open the doors themselves, but the agency's leaders don't want to be part of catch-and-release.

They were promised they wouldn't have to be humane.

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 PM


Media Uproar Over Netanyahu's 'Nation-State' Comment Reveals A Misunderstanding Of Zionism (JOSH_HAMMER, March 12, 2019, Daily Wire)

In response to a recent question posed by Israeli actress Rotem Sela on her Instagram page about the nature of the Israeli nation-state, Netanyahu responded by saying that "Israel is the nation-state of Jews alone."

Apparently, this rather mundane observation has caused somewhat of a stir for all the usual suspects in the doltish, anti-Israel "international community." Alas, one is forced to wonder whether these same observers would question whether Sweden is the nation-state of Swedes alone despite the presence there of some ethnic Finns, or whether Hungary is the nation-state of Hungarians alone despite the presence there of some ethnic Slovaks.

Or if South Africa was the nation-state of Boers alone?

Posted by orrinj at 12:20 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:04 PM


In Newly Unearthed 2006 Radio Clip, Tucker Carlson Fantasized About a Racist Presidential Candidate (MOLLY OLMSTEAD, MARCH 12, 2019, Slate)

CARLSON: [...]I mean, not someone who's like a Klansman or anything, but someone who's totally unbound by P.C. rules, who will just say whatever the hell he wants. ... You know, someone who really will--and everyone claims, "Oh, I say it like it is."

Posted by orrinj at 9:51 AM


Trump reportedly told John Kelly to fire Jared and Ivanka because they 'didn't know how to play the game' (The Week, 3/12/19)

This is according to the new book Kushner Inc., in which reporter Vicky Ward describes the president asking Kelly to remove Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner from the White House early on in his tenure as chief of staff, telling him to get his children "back to New York," per The New York Times. The president reportedly fumed that they "didn't know how to play the game" and were generating negative news coverage.

Kelly, the Times writes, told Trump it would "be difficult" to fire them, so instead, the two came up with another solution: They would simply "make life difficult enough to force the pair to offer their resignations."

Posted by orrinj at 9:46 AM


Colcannon (Elise Bauer, 3/12/19)


4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks
5 to 6 Tbsp unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
3 green onions (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup milk or cream


1 Boil the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.

Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander.

2 Cook the greens and the green onions with butter: Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it's hot, add the greens.

Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water.

Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.

3 Mash the potatoes with milk or cream and greens: Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium.

Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens.

Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.

Posted by orrinj at 9:21 AM


Adam Smith, Loneliness, and the Limits of Mainstream Economics (Russ Roberts, Mar 11, 2019, Medium)

The fundamental question Smith asks in The Theory of Moral Sentiments is why, given that we are self-interested (not selfish, self-interested) do we ever make sacrifices for others? Why do we do acts of kindness and generosity at our own expense?

His answer is that we have a vision of what is honorable and we try to live up to it. That vision comes from an awareness that when I step outside myself, I recognize that I have no claim to be better than anyone else. To act as if I am is selfish and dishonorable.

Smith argues that we want the respect of those around us and we want to earn that respect honestly by how we actually behave rather than how we are perceived. We want our true self to be the source of our reputation. A single sentence sums up Smith's view of our motivation:

Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely.

By loved, Smith didn't just mean romantic love or deep friendship. He meant honored, respected, praised, paid attention to. We want to matter in the eyes of others. By lovely, Smith meant worthy of honor, worthy of respect, praiseworthy. We naturally desire to be loved and lovely -- we're hardwired that way. What Smith is saying is that we care deeply about not only being respected and praised -- that Smith takes as a given. But we also want to earn that respect and praise honestly, by actually being lovely.

Smith makes a bolder claim that this urge for respect from others is the source of our well-being. He writes:

The chief part of human happiness arises from the consciousness of being loved.

So consider the following. If Smith is right and if the the chief part of human happiness arises from the consciousness of being beloved, then what happens to people who are not beloved, not loved, not respected, not honored? What happens to people who no one pays attention to, people who struggle to find respect, honor, love? What happens to people who feel as if they do not matter?

Smith's answer is that we perceive God observing us.

Posted by orrinj at 9:09 AM


Tucker Carlson Cries About 'Twitter Mob' Just as New Clip Surfaces With Him Calling Iraqis 'Monkeys' and Worse (Justin Baragona, 03.11.19 , Daily Beast)

In one new clip from 2006, he said it wasn't worth invading Iraq because it's "a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys." Carlson also noted that Afghanistan is "never going to be a civilized country because the people aren't civilized."

Later that same year, he said "I just have zero sympathy for them or their culture. A culture where people just don't use toilet paper or forks." He continued: "They can just shut the f[***] up and obey, is my view."

...for exactly as long as it involves killing Muslims, then turns against it.

Posted by orrinj at 8:55 AM


Why I remain a Never Trumper, and what it means (Quin Hillyer, March 11, 2019 , Washington Examiner)

I will not vote for Trump, because I can never vote for a virulent bigot. After much reflection, I personally believe Trump to be just that. This is a personal belief that I will not defend here and now, but it's not something I could make myself ignore, even if I wanted to.

I will not vote for Trump because I believe that while nobody is anywhere near perfect, good character is important, especially in the Oval Office, as an example for America's youth. I can never vote for somebody with character beneath a certain baseline level. I believe Trump to be well below that level. I also firmly believe he is corrupt, with a business past just as dicey as the grifting that made most of us conservatives investigate and castigate the Clintons in the 1990s.

I can't vote for Trump because I believe, in the long term, he is doing more harm to conservatism and his country than the good accomplished by some of his administration's temporary policy achievements. (I also credit him for far fewer achievements than his supporters do.) I believe he is doing significant harm to our international standing and to important international alliances, that his trade policies are a threat to both the American and world economies, that his obvious admiration for authoritarian "strong men" is extremely worrisome, that his particular admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin is dangerous, that his utter diminution of international human rights runs counter to American values and interests, and that his obsession with the only-somewhat-important issue of immigration distracts attention from far more serious issues facing this country, such as debt and cultural rot. [...]

Trump lies constantly, extravagantly, incontinently. He undermines faith in American institutions. He tweets out quotes from Mussolini, recklessly slings around the word "treason" and uses Stalinist language such as "enemies of the people," claims executive powers wildly beyond the tenor and intent of the Constitution, promotes destabilizing conspiracy theories, and encourages a societally hazardous cult of personality.

Posted by orrinj at 8:24 AM


Anti-Semitism and Orthodoxy in the Age of Trump: How religious Judaism helps shield the American president's disparagement of globalism, cosmopolitanism, and other features of progressive secular Jewry from claims of anti-Semitism (Eliyahu Stern, March 12, 2019 , The Tablet)

In response to the Pittsburgh massacre, in which Robert Gregory Bowers gunned down 11 Jews praying in the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, all major Orthodox organizations condemned the attack in the clearest possible terms, but none was prepared to denounce the stated cause for the violence: white nationalism and the demonization of Jews as avatars for progressive and left-wing politics.

Why would the very group that was most noticeably targeted by white nationalism in the 20th century be the most reluctant to condemn it today? Some point to President Donald Trump and his allies' support for Israel's right-wing government, which itself has made common cause with some European anti-Semitic nationalist movements. Others such as the historian David Henkin claim that many of Trump's Orthodox supporters "are the descendants (literally, in many cases) of Jews to whom the white nationalism of the post-1965 Republican Party was already resonating 30 or 40 years ago in debates about affirmative action, segregation, colonialism, and law enforcement." Both theories, however, overlook Orthodoxy's own position on anti-Semitism and the crucible in which it was formed.

Orthodoxy's position on anti-Semitism was first theorized in the interwar period when Central and Eastern European rabbis and laypeople founded the first Orthodox political party, Agudath Israel. Like all political parties operating on the continent at the time, the Orthodox quickly found themselves choosing between the rock of Stalin on the left, and the hard place of Hitler on the right. Whereas Stalin posed a threat to Jews' religious institutions and observances, Hitler's target was Jews themselves and their involvement in German political and economic life.

The Orthodox, however, operated under the illusion that Hitler's wrath was directed only at certain kinds of Jews and that their own prohibitions against intermarriage and commitments to cultural difference could persuade the German chancellor that they were to be trusted allies. Stalin would destroy Orthodoxy, but Hitler, they figured, would only be bothered by those Jews who were Communists or Marxists. Many in the Orthodox community surmised that Jews who held fast to their spiritual heritage would pose no threat to Nazi Germany and it was therefore Stalin who was to be feared.

German Orthodox leaders directly appealed to the German chancellor (Hitler), arguing in 1933 that "Marxist materialism and Communist atheism share not the least in common with the spirit of the positive Jewish religious tradition, as handed down through Orthodox teachings obligatory on the Jewish People. ... We have," they recalled, "been at war against this religious attitude." Orthodox leaders sought to find common ground with Hitler by demonstrating their own virulent hatred for left-wing and progressive Jews. They proclaimed: "We have always combated the corrosive spirit of materialism with religious idealism."

In their attempt to curry favor with Hitler, Orthodox leaders not only stressed their own loyalty to the German people, but went out of their way to stress the structural similarities between Hitler's position. "We seek a Lebensraum within the Lebensraum of the German people," they maintained. [...]

Where Orthodoxy's position was unique, however, is the way in which it identified left-wing politics as a cancer from within the Jewish collective, something internal to Judaism itself. The fight against Marxism and a materialist theory of the world was not only to be waged against gentiles, but first and foremost against other Jews who played integral roles in founding these new movements.

Wasserman identified Judaism's primary present-day enemies as Jews who held leadership positions in the left; those he considered to be descendants of both the biblical "mixed multitude" as well as the tribe of Amalek. The "mixed multitude" referred to those Egyptians that followed Israelites when they left Egypt only to cajole them into worshiping the Golden Calf in the desert. Amalek was the first group to attack the Israelites in the desert; its descendants were deserving of death by biblical mandate. Wasserman employed the category of Amalek to describe leaders of the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Communist Party, as well as Zionists residing in Palestine (most of whom were then aligned with the left) and around the world. He advised his flock "to physically fight against them with arms. To prepare oneself to kill." [...]

Whereas the anti-Semite described the Jew as an egoist who hoarded goods and resources, the Jewish materialist claimed that Judaism promoted the fair and equal distribution of resources in society. Whereas the anti-Semite claimed that the Jew was a lesser race, the Jewish materialists argued that Jews were a distinct ethnic group. [...]

Orthodoxy's vigilance in combating anti-Judaism mirrors the Janus-faced relationship of the American Christian right's stance toward Jews. It is precisely their staunch support for certain kinds of Jews and certain forms of Judaism that makes possible their attacks against, or at the very least disregard for, defending the rights of other types of Jews. Their assaults against globalists, progressives, and boundary-crossers are not, they claim, directed at Jews, because real Jews also oppose globalists, progressives, and subversives. If progressive Jews are not really Jews and if left-wing Jewish values are not really authentically Jewish, then it follows that opposing these types and values does not indicate any particular anti-Jewish animus.

Posted by orrinj at 8:20 AM


New York attorney general is investigating Trump projects: NY Times (Reuters, 3/12/19) 

The New York attorney general's office is looking into ties between Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank and several Trump Organization projects, the New York Times reported late Monday.

Posted by orrinj at 8:09 AM


The Roman Roads of Spain & Portugal Visualized as a Subway Map: Ancient History Meets Modern Graphic Design (Open Culture, 3/12/19)

Posted by orrinj at 7:55 AM


Thousands demand quick change in Algeria after Bouteflika concessions (Lamine Chikhi, 3/12/19, Reuters) 

Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi and protest groups will join a conference planning Algeria's future, government and political sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and U.N. special envoy, is expected to chair the conference that will oversee the transition, draft a new constitution and set the date for elections, a government source said.

Crowds who came back onto the streets on Tuesday demanded quicker action.

"The whole system must disappear immediately. Our battle will continue," 25-year-old student Noureddine Habi said in central Algiers as others chanted: "We want this system to go".

Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM


Atlanta Fed trims U.S. GDP growth view to 0.2 pct (Reuters, 3/11/19) 

The U.S. economy is expanding at a 0.2 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, based on January data on domestic retail sales, the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDPNow forecast model showed on Monday.

The point of Donald's policies is to make America so unattractive that no one will want to move here.

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


In first, settler leader to address upcoming AIPAC conference (RAPHAEL AHREN, 3/12/19, Times of Israel)

A senior leader of the Yesha Council is set to appear at the upcoming AIPAC Policy Conference, marking the first time a representative of the settlement umbrella organization has been invited to the powerful lobby's annual summit.

Oded Revivi, the Yesha Council's chief foreign envoy, is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion in one of the conference's side events, as opposed to the main stage, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the 18,000 registered participants. [...]

[R]evivi, who is also the mayor of the West Bank town of Efrat, said it was "not quite true" that AIPAC supports a two-state solution.

"When you get into discussions with them, they're not that clear. They tend to say that what's on the website is not really such a clear-cut statement," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 4:18 AM


Rembrandt in the Blood: An Obsessive Aristocrat, Rediscovered Paintings and an Art-World Feud: No one had spotted a new painting by the Dutch master for four decades -- until the scion of a storied Amsterdam family found two. (Russell Shorto, Feb. 27, 2019, NY Times Magazine)

The discovery that upended Jan Six's life occurred one day in November 2016. Six is a 40-year-old Dutch art dealer based in Amsterdam, who attracted worldwide attention last year with the news that he had unearthed a previously unknown painting by Rembrandt, the most revered of Dutch masters -- the first unknown Rembrandt to come to light in 42 years. The find didn't come about from scouring remote churches or picking through the attics of European country houses, but rather, as Six described it to me last May, while he was going through his mail. He had just taken his two small children to school (in true Dutch fashion, by bicycle: one seated between the handlebars and the other in back). The typical weather for the season, raw wind and spitting rain, would never deter a real Amsterdammer from mounting his bike -- and Six's roots in the city go about as deep as possible -- but by the time he arrived at his office, he was feeling the effects. Waterkoud ("water cold") is the Dutch word for the chilly dampness of the Low Countries that seeps into the bones.

The antidote to that feeling is encompassed in another word. Gezelligheid, loosely translated as coziness, is the condition people in the Netherlands strive for in the interiors of their homes. It's often what's being depicted and celebrated in old-master canvases from the Golden Age of the 17th century, the era that is Six's specialty: warm domestic scenes, merry companies hoisting tankards, still lifes of tables laden with food. Six's office, on the ground floor of a building on the Herengracht, one of the city's main canals -- a canal that Rembrandt himself used to stroll -- has its share of gezelligheid. The building dates from the early 1600s. Ancient beams cross the ceiling. The views out of the windows are of bicyclists racing by and the evocative, ever-somber surface of the canal reflecting the gabled facades of the buildings on the opposite side.

Six made coffee that morning, then sat down to a stack of mail. He dispensed with the bills and other annoyances first so as to settle into the catalogs of coming art auctions. One was for a December event at Christie's in London. He skimmed it quickly, almost dismissively; it was for the daytime sale, which featured lesser objects. The top paintings and sculptures are always reserved for the evening.

And then, he told me, he stopped cold. The slightly miscolored photograph in the catalog was a portrait of a rather dazed-looking young gentleman with a lace collar and a proto-Led Zeppelin coif. What first spoke to Six was the gaze of the subject (whose identity remains unknown): "He pierces the image," he said. Six felt that he had seen the work before, but after tearing through his library in search of it, he came to believe it wasn't the actual image that struck him as familiar but the sum of all the telltale features of an early Rembrandt. These include, in Six's estimation, the humanness of that gaze, a "rounded" brush stroke and a willingness to employ different painting styles within the same work.

The painting dated from somewhere between 1633 and 1635. The giveaway was the particular type of lace collar, which was the height of fashion in that brief span and then quickly went out of style. What especially excited Six was not just that Christie's had failed to see that the painting was most likely from the hand of the master, but also that the auction house had labeled it "circle of Rembrandt" -- i.e., from a follower. "You see the problem, right?" he asked me. I was puzzling for the solution to the riddle when he blurted it out: "Rembrandt wasn't famous yet in the early 1630s, so there was no circle. I knew right away Christie's had screwed up."

From there, Six was a bloodhound on the trail. He learned that the painting's provenance went back to Sir Richard Neave, an English merchant of the late 1700s who built a serious art collection, which included works by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable; the painting had stayed in the same family for six generations. This fit: It made sense that a painting by a top-tier artist would have attracted a prominent collector.

Six was so excited that he jumped on his bike and cycled a short distance across central Amsterdam to the home of Ernst van de Wetering, universally renowned as a top authority on Rembrandt; still breathless, Six thrust a photocopy of the picture at him. As befits a person whose opinion is weighted with import, van de Wetering typically reacts with reserve on first seeing an image, but he was intrigued. "It looked like a Rembrandt, but it was completely new to me," van de Wetering told me later. Six cycled back home and bought a plane ticket.

Posted by orrinj at 3:30 AM


How Should Self-Driving Cars Choose Who Not to Kill?: A popular MIT quiz asked ordinary people to make ethical judgments for machines (MORGAN MEAKER, Feb 15, 2019, Medium)

In an earlier study, you found that people thought an autonomous vehicle should protect the greater number of people, even if that meant sacrificing its passengers. But they also said they wouldn't buy an autonomous car programmed to act this way. What does this tell us?

Azim Shariff: People recognize it is more ethically responsible to save more lives. But people are self-interested, and it might be a hard sell to do what's ethical. When Mercedes-Benz said that if they could only save one person, they would save the driver and not the pedestrian, public outrage made them retract that statement. This demonstrates an interesting dilemma for car companies. If you say your car would preference the passenger, there will be public outrage. If you decide to treat all life equally but imperil the life of the person who bought the car, you might actually take a hit to your bottom line, people might not buy that car. From the manufacturers we've talked to, they want the decision taken out of their hands and they want regulation.

...where you just release the wheel so as to have no moral culpability for the results.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


NONE WHO HAVE PLAYED IT ARE WELL (PICO IYER, 10/30/95, Sports Illustrated)

The Battle of Waterloo may have been won on that hallowed turf,
but minds, limbs and nerves are lost there every year. For Eton
fields a riot of homegrown sports played nowhere else in the
world yet celebrated everywhere for their mad brutality. Of all
these curious traditions, the most peculiar and the oldest is
the Wall Game. Few who have seen it are alive, and none who have
played it are well. During my five years at Eton, I built a
career at the Wall that was glorious though, in its way,
typical: I never scored a goal; I never saw a goal scored; and
in terrible fact, I never set eyes, let alone feet, on the ball.

For all that, the Wall Game has a breathtaking simplicity. A
soiled and soggy ball is placed along the eponymous Wall, a
278-year-old structure 11 feet high and roughly 355 feet long. A
small boy sits, henlike, on top of the soccer-style ball. About
15 of the game's other 19 players--called seconds, walls and
longs--pile on top of the small boy, forming a rugbylike scrum
known with killing aptness as the bully (rugby, you may recall,
was devised at another of England's high schools). Then, after a
signal from the umpire (usually a teacher in mufti), the boys
push, shove and tackle one another, while the bully shakes
around in a many-legged frenzy that, as one appreciative former
housemaster put it, resembles the "death throes of some
monstrous crab." After 30 minutes of this fun the players change
ends and blearily set about knocking heads for another 30
minutes. The Wall Game, they say, is an acquired taste.

Yet there is to the madness a demented method. At the northern
end of the playing area (a strip of grass 15 feet wide running
along the redbrick Wall) a tiny black door that opens onto a
private garden serves as a goal; its counterpart at the southern
end is the trunk of an ancient elm. In between pummeling
princelings and potentates, the players in the bully try to move
toward the goal by clutching the ball between their ankles and
hopping through the mess of enemy forces, all the while keeping
the ball in contact with the Wall. This is not much harder than
balancing an egg on one's nose while crawling through the
trenches of Verdun. Far behind the bully, the other two players
on each team stand around idly, painting their fingernails. One
is called a flying man or fly. Both, however, might easily be
mistaken for spectators. If the ball makes one of its biennial
appearances outside the bully, the job of these "behinds" is to
lumber up to it and kick it toward the opponents' goal. This
happens with the frequency of lunar eclipses.

Scoring is therefore virtually impossible. But the beauty of the
Wall Game is that it makes a mockery of the very notions of
victory and defeat. Since kicking an unseen ball into a tiny
target from 178 feet away is beyond the reach of all mankind,
some allowances are made. If one player close to the opposing
goal lifts the ball up the Wall with his feet (as if juggling a
soccer ball) and a colleague touches it while crying, "Got it!"
their team is allowed to pick up the ball and fling it goalward.
But should that throw be touched by any of the 10 players
defending the unreachable target, it does not count as a
goal--even if by some miracle it hits the target. Scoring by
this method is, therefore, also impossible. In desperation some
benign lunatics declared that the very attempt to make a "shy at
goal" would count for a point. Spurred by this, perhaps, the
Wall Game recently witnessed an offensive explosion: two goals
in the space of 27 years. And Americans think soccer is a snooze!