May 21, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 12:59 PM


The immorality of Nathan Robinson's far-left American revolution (Tom Rogan, May 20, 2019, Washington Examiner)

There are fanatics on the far-right of American politics. But there are also fanatics on the far-left.

Nathan Robinson demonstrated as much Monday when he optimistically warned that revolution is coming to America.

Writing in the Guardian, Robinson explains that America is now imprisoned by a "totalitarian" class of "a few dozen rich white men" in the Senate and on the Supreme Court, who disenfranchise the majority of Americans. Robinson says these men are destined for destruction. "History's bloody revolutions show us what happens when this gap becomes too large, and the government entirely ceases to effectively represent the governed." Robinson excitedly continues, "Conservatives will continue to push unpopular policies on an unwilling United States. But it's unclear how long people will accept having decisions made for them by a few dozen rich white men."

He might be writing in a high-brow publication, but there isn't much difference between what Robinson wants and what far-right white supremacists want: the violent annihilation of America as it is. Yes, Robinson, a Harvard University doctoral student and the editor of Current Affairs, is more articulate than the other side's extremists. But his arguments, like all arguments for revolution against a fundamentally just and appropriately malleable form of government, are no more moral.

When Robinson discusses "bloody revolution," he means specifically the destruction of the Constitution. The so-called rich white men hold power by the constitutional action of the electorate, the Senate, and past presidents. To remove their power requires the annihilation of our constitutional democracy.

In short, this is authoritarian fanaticism veiled as a liberation struggle.

Both sides hate the America that actually exists.
Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM


'This was a steal': Campaign real estate deal that 'thrilled' Trump could be illegal (Steven Nelson, May 21, 2019, Washington Examiner)

President Trump was "thrilled" that his campaign acquired Northern Virginia office space at "bargain basement" rates, a campaign official told the Washington Examiner in an interview in the plush 14th floor offices overlooking the Potomac River from Arlington, Va.

But campaign finance specialists say the "steal" could violate election law, which views below-market rates for rent as an illegal in-kind campaign donation.

The deal was presented as a story of real estate prowess that was a fitting reflection of the man who authored The Art of the Deal. 

He's never been able to make money honestly.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Was It an Invisible Attack on U.S. Diplomats, or Something Stranger? (DAN HURLEY, MAY 15, 2019. NY Times)

That month, DeLaurentis called a meeting of his senior staff to tell them what was going on. He insisted that they tell no one else -- not even their families -- which had the perverse effect of heightening the staff members' anxiety rather than calming it. Within days, DeLaurentis felt compelled to call an open meeting of the American staff. More than 60 people crammed into the Embassy's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility -- an inner sanctum for confidential communications. They were told about the noises and the symptoms and were offered the opportunity to be tested if they had concerns. Nearly all of those present, as well as some family members, soon asked to be evaluated.

"There was a sense of hysteria and concern," said another government official who worked in Havana at the time. [...]

And yet, two and a half years after the first diplomats in Havana said they heard strange sounds and fell ill, and after at least six visits to Cuba by the F.B.I., the study by Penn researchers, another study led by the otolaryngologist at the University of Miami and a continuing investigation by a "health incidents response task force" organized by the State Department, the claims of an attack by an invisible weapon remain not only unproved but also highly contested by prominent physicists and engineers in the United States and abroad.

Dozens of leading neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists, meanwhile, have offered an alternative narrative: that the diplomats' symptoms are primarily psychogenic -- or "functional" -- in nature. If true, it would mean that the symptoms were caused not by a secret high-tech weapon but by the same confluence of psychological and neurological processes -- entirely subconscious yet remarkably powerful -- underlying hypnosis and the placebo effect. They are disorders, in other words, not of the brain's hardware but of its software; not of objective injuries to the brain's structure but of chronic alterations to how the brain functions, typically following exposure to an illness, a physical injury or stress. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:04 AM


Daily Presidential Tracking Poll (Rasmussen Reports, May 20, 2019)

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 44% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump's job performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 32% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 42% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -12

Even Rasmussen can't cook the numbers.

Posted by orrinj at 12:03 AM


Trump is in trouble with the voters who won him the White House (Daniel R. DePetris, 21 May 2019, The Spectator USA)

Trump actually received more than 2.5 million fewer votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, yet won the election thanks to the Electoral College. He was victorious in all the right places, breaking through the Democratic party's so-called blue-wall in the Midwest by turning out his rural base and winning over traditional, blue-collar voters who went for Barack Obama four years earlier. The liberal-turned-Republican peppered Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin with rallies and red "Make America Great Again" baseball caps and seconded the merchandise with an anti-elite and anti-NAFTA message. And it worked well enough to land all three states in the GOP column for the first time since the 1980s.

Trump, however, is now in trouble with those voters. The president's approval ratings in Wisconsin (-13), Michigan (-10) and Pennsylvania (-7) are underwater. For Trump's re-election team, why this is the case is less important than whether it can be reversed. Trump, vice president Mike Pence and campaign surrogates will be spending a lot of time in the Rust Belt between now and November 2020 trying to remind these very same voters why they made the right decision to vote against the Clinton machine in 2016 - and why the billionaire from Queens, NY deserves a second term. 

One doubts that even the sycophants Donald hires will try defending these lost causes, but the more resources he squanders there the better.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Heroes of Progress, Pt. 17: Malcom McLean (Alexander C. R. Hammond, 5/03/19,  @HumanProgress) 

Our 17th Hero of Progress is Malcom McLean, an American truck driver and, later, businessman who developed the modern intermodal shipping container. McLean's development of standardized shipping containers significantly reduced the cost of transporting cargo across the world. Lower shipping costs significantly boosted international trade which, in turn, helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. McLean's "containerization" remains a vital pillar of our interconnected global economy today.

Before McLean developed the standardized shipping container, nearly all the world's cargo was transported in a diverse assortment of barrels, boxes, bags, crates and drums. A typical ship in the pre-container era contained as many as 200,000 individual pieces of cargo that were loaded onto the ship by hand. The time it took to load and unload the cargo often equaled the time that the ship needed to sail between ports. That inefficiency contributed to keeping the cost of shipping very high. This is where McLean enters our story. [...]

In 1956, hand-loading cargo onto a ship in a U.S. port cost $5.86 per ton ($55.58 in today's money). By 2006, shipping containers reduced that price to just 16 cents per ton ($0.21 in today's money). HumanProgress' Board Member Matt Ridley has noted that "the development of containerization in the 1950s made the loading and unloading of ships roughly twenty-times as fast and thereby dramatically lowered the cost of trade."

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Kris Kobach reportedly gave the White House a list of demands for 'immigration czar' job (Catherine Garcia, May 20, 2019, The Week)

Following the meeting, Kobach got to work putting together 10 conditions for his employment, people with knowledge of the matter said. His demands shocked White House staffers; among other things, he asked for an office in the West Wing, weekends off, 24/7 access to a government jet, the ability to walk into the Oval Office whenever he wants, a staff of seven, the title "assistant to the president," at the highest pay grade, and a guarantee that all Cabinet secretaries who have anything to do with immigration policy defer to him, the Times reports. Kobach also wanted Trump's promise he will nominate him for Homeland Security secretary by Nov. 1, unless Kobach asks to remain immigration czar.

To their credit, the Trumpies are quite open in their contempt for the Republic and don't disguise that it's just a cash cow for them.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Michael Cohen Testified Under Oath That Trump Lawyer Jay Sekulow Instructed Him to Lie to Congress (ELLIOT HANNON, MAY 20, 2019, Slate)

Michael Cohen told the House Intelligence Committee during what was once private testimony in February that Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow instructed him to lie to Congress about the timing of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. In a 2017 statement to Congress, Cohen said that negotiations over the proposed building project ended in Jan.
2016 weeks before the Iowa caucuses, when in reality, Cohen would later say, the talks with Moscow continued on into June of the election year when it was all but assured Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. The revelation comes as the House Intel Committee voted Monday to make public Cohen's February testimony.

No one even questions that Donald obstructed justice; there are just some quibbles about what collusion means in legal terms.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Pelosi clashes with fellow Dems in closed-door debate on impeachment (HEATHER CAYGLE, JOHN BRESNAHAN and SARAH FERRIS, 05/20/2019, Politico)

House Democratic leaders sparred internally on Monday over whether to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies rejecting the call to move forward for now, according to multiple sources.

Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Joe Neguse of Colorado -- all members of Democratic leadership -- pushed to begin impeachment proceedings during a leadership meeting in Pelosi's office, said the sources. Pelosi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Cheri Bustos of Illinois -- some of her key allies -- rejected their calls, saying Democrats' message is being drowned out by the fight over possibly impeaching Trump.

Raskin -- a former law professor -- said he wasn't advocating impeaching Trump but suggested that opening an impeachment inquiry would strengthen their legal position while allowing Democrats to move forward with their legislative agenda.

Silly, girl; there is no message except Donald. That was the message of 2016 and '18.