May 22, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:22 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:45 PM


2nd judge refuses to block House subpoenas for Trump bank records (Katelyn Polantz, May 22, 2019, CNN)

A second federal judge has now rebuffed President Donald Trump's sweeping attempt to block House lawmakers from accessing his financial records, handing him another defeat in a fight that has infuriated the President and opened deep rifts with Democrats.

Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York on Wednesday refused to block subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Financial Services panels for Trump's financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. It's the second such ruling against the President in three days.

Posted by orrinj at 6:23 PM


Poll: American Jews feel threatened, blame Trump (Yonat Shimron, 5/22/19, RNS) 

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Research, shows 71% disapprove of Trump's response to anti-Semitism. Nearly 60% believe he bears at least some responsibility for last year's shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and last month's shooting at a synagogue in Poway, near San Diego.

Posted by orrinj at 6:16 PM


The Premise of Joe Biden's Campaign Is That Every Left-Wing Criticism of the Democratic Party Since 2008 Has Been Wrong (BEN MATHIS-LILLEY, MAY 22, 2019, Slate)

Joe Biden has been officially running for president for about a month now, and on Saturday, he held a rally in Philadelphia at which he articulated his vision for the country and his campaign. The most revealing lines in his speech might have been these: "Folks, I know some of the really smart folks say Democrats don't want to hear about unity. They say Democrats are so angry, that the angrier a candidate can be, the better chance he or she has to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don't believe it."

Biden's words were a shot at Democrats who think the party needs to more explicitly sell itself as a vehicle for aggressively confronting a range of people, institutions, and problems on behalf of marginalized and mistreated middle- and working-class Americans. His speech instead emphasized concepts like reconciliation and cooperation, portraying a country that would essentially be happily united in its ideals and goals across lines of both party and class were it not for the singular figure of Donald Trump.

Biden's campaign isn't just pitching itself as an alternative to the Democratic Party's left-leaning, aggression-demanding internal critics on a rhetorical level; the campaign also rejects those critics' beliefs about strategy and their reading of recent history. Biden's candidacy is, in one sense, a proposition that everything that's been said by an unhappy progressive Democrat over the course of the past decade or so should be ignored. 

And that the Right's criticism of the GOP is wrong.

Posted by orrinj at 6:03 PM


Report: Babies Are More Likely to Die in States That Didn't Expand Medicaid (MATTIE QUINN, MAY 22, 2019, Governing)
As the country grapples with increasing rates of maternal mortality, a new study from the Georgetown University Center of Health Policy found that one of the biggest things a state can do for the health of new mothers and babies is to expand Medicaid.

The United States is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate has increased, doubling over the past two decades. Though the rate of infant mortality has declined 15 percent in the past decade, the United States still has one of the highest in the developed world -- more than double that of Japan and Sweden. [...]

Fourteen states have not expanded Medicaid, and the result can be deadly: States that expanded Medicaid saw a reduction in infant mortality -- from 5.9 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000, while the rate slighty rose in nonexpansion states -- from 6.4 to 6.5 deaths per 100,000.

Posted by orrinj at 5:59 PM


Pelosi says 'I pray for the president' after Trump walks out of infrastructure meeting (Brendan Morrow, 5/22/19, The Week)

"I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America," Pelosi said. She also speculated that Trump perhaps "took a pass" on their meeting due to "lack of confidence on his part" about their infrastructure negotiations.

Posted by orrinj at 12:10 PM


U.S. federal wall funding of US$1.57B yields 1.7 miles of fence (Edvard Pettersson, 5/22/19, Bloomberg News)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has put up just 1.7 miles of fencing with the US$1.57 billion that Congress appropriated last year for President Donald Trump's wall along the Mexican border, a federal judge was told.

Your grandchildren will ask you if he even existed.

Posted by orrinj at 12:08 PM


Border Vigilante Was Accused of Running Child-Cancer Charity Scam (Nick R. Martin, 05.22.19, Daily Beast)

For the past few months, Jim Benvie has played the role of a wannabe cop in the New Mexico borderlands.

He wears a badge with the words "Fugitive Recovery Agent." He refers to Border Patrol agents as his "backup." He claims to be protecting America from a "criminal invasion" at the nation's southwestern border.

All the while, he's been facing a criminal charge of his own in another state.

Benvie is the appointed spokesman for a group of Trump-loving border vigilantes previously known as the United Constitutional Patriots, which recently renamed itself Guardian Patriots. The group earned widespread notoriety last month because of videos Benvie livestreamed to Facebook, showing his armed crew harassing and apprehending migrants.

The vigilante group was kicked off PayPal and GoFundMe as a result, but it is still attempting to raise money for its efforts in other ways. Now, court documents reviewed by The Daily Beast raise serious questions about Benvie's background in fundraising.

He was arrested in an incident in which police said he was fraudulently claiming to be collecting cash for a child with cancer and was allegedly in possession of a stolen rental truck, according to the court records.

Posted by orrinj at 4:03 AM


Farmers in US heartland fume over fallout from Trump's China tariffs (James Langford, May 17, 2019, Washington Examiner)

As a Minnesota farmer, Mike Peterson is accustomed to dealing with slumping crop prices or damage from volatile weather. He had no way to prepare, however, for the fallout from a trade war with China that has cost American growers access to one of their most lucrative markets.

"I'll be the first to admit that I originally supported the effort to secure better trade agreements and to hold bad actors accountable," Peterson told the House Agriculture Committee's panel on farm commodities in early May. "But the approach to these trade disputes has caused damage that I'm afraid it'll take us decades to overcome."

Peterson's outlook is increasingly common among U.S. farmers, many of whom reside in states that President Trump won in 2016 and will need to carry in order to keep the White House in 2020.

Good presidents save the citizenry from their basest impulses--like W's embyonic stem cell ban--instead of indulging them.

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM


The Austerity Chronicles: a review of Alberto Alesina, Carlo Favero, and Francesco Giavazzi, Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn't (KENNETH ROGOFF, 4/05/19, Project Syndicate)

In Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn't, the central conclusion reached by economists Alberto Alesina, Carlo Favero, and Francesco Giavazzi is one that most modern-day Keynesians and progressives will hate. In cases when circumstances have forced a country into fiscal retrenchment, the authors show, cutting government spending has cost less than tax increases in terms of foregone output and employment.

Readers should know that this is no ideological diatribe. Alesina, Favero, and Giavazzi have conducted cutting-edge empirical research on 16 advanced economies to draw lessons that could not have been garnered from analyzing any one country or episode in isolation. Austerity is a towering scholarly achievement, embodying decades of research and destined to serve as a touchstone for future studies - both by those who will build on it and by those who will try to tear it down.

In the very first line of their book, Alesina, Favero, and Giavazzi surpass the many blunderbusses that are published about austerity when they actually define the term. "Austerity," they write, "indicates a policy of sizable reduction of government deficits and stabilization of government debt achieved by means of spending cuts or tax increases, or both."

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


North Korea: Joe Biden is a 'fool of low IQ' (SBS, 5/22/19)

North Korea has labelled Joe Biden a "fool of low IQ" and an "imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being" after the US presidential hopeful called leader Kim Jong-un a tyrant during a speech.

...but they probably ought not be co-ordinating campaign contributions with Donald.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Fed may cut rates if inflation keeps disappointing: Bullard (Noah Sin, Marius Zaharia, 5/22/19, Reuters) 

Further weakness in inflation could prompt the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, even if economic growth maintains its momentum, James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said on Wednesday.

We've actually reached a point in human history where creating more wealth at lower cost is disappointing?  
Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Rex Tillerson Secretly Meets With House Foreign Affairs Committee to Talk Trump (Erin Banco, 05.21.19, Daily Beast)

Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson spoke with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday in a lengthy session that, an aide said, touched on his time working in the Trump administration, the frictions he had with the president's son-in-law, and efforts to tackle issues like Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Tillerson's appearance, first reported by The Daily Beast, took place as virtually every other Trumpworld luminary has been stonewalling congressional oversight efforts. At the same time the former secretary of state was speaking before lawmakers, former White House counsel Don McGahn was ignoring a subpoena to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


New Transcripts Say That Trump Crafted Michael Cohen's Lies More Closely Than Was Previously Known (Anthony Cormier & Jason Leopold, 5/21/19, BuzzFeed News)

Gathered in the Oval Office in May 2017, President Donald Trump and two of his lawyers, Michael Cohen and Jay Sekulow, huddled to shape Cohen's impending testimony before Congress. The conversation centered on Trump Tower Moscow, a planned condominium and hotel that could have been the most profitable project in the history of the Trump Organization. While running for president, Trump spoke to Cohen about it 10 times, and Cohen pursued the deal well into the summer of 2016.

But that day in the Oval Office, according to Cohen's recent account, Trump claimed that the opposite was true: "There's no Russia," Cohen says the president insisted. "There's no collusion, there's no business, there's no deals." Cohen believed that Trump was telling him to lie.

Trump delivered that instruction on several occasions, Cohen told congressional investigators, but he needn't have bothered. "For me, he didn't have to say it more than once," Cohen said. "I got it the first time, you know, what we were all in agreement on."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Greatest Living Ex-President Shares Secrets to Fantastic Painting (Andrew Stiles, May 17, 2019, Free Beacon)

Bush made a special guest appearance Thursday on "The Strategerist," the official podcast of the George W. Bush Institute. The top-ranking former president began by dishing on the inspiration behind the show's name--the word "strategery," which was actually the brainchild of a Saturday Night Live writer.

Bush said that for 17 years he believed the famous line uttered by Will Ferrell's George W. Bush was something he had actually said as president. Longtime SNL producer Lorne Michaels, during a recent dinner meeting, assured him that the show had invented the term out of whole cloth.

The discussion turned to the subject of humor, and not taking yourself too seriously. The notoriously affable ex-president stressed the importance of maintaining a sense of humor as president because "our nation needs to laugh." Humor, said Bush, was a critical component of the job.

"I think it is very important for society and individuals to, either collectively or individually, laugh because laughter is such a part of a light spirit," he said. "It's hard to be optimistic if you aren't able to smile."

Bush cited his late father George H.W. Bush's embrace of SNL impersonator Dana Carvey as an inspiration behind his capacity for self-deprecation. "One of the jobs of a president is to create an optimistic vision for the country, and I don't see how you can be optimistic if you're worried that someone is making fun of you," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Brazil lower house votes to allow foreign airlines in domestic market (Maria Carolina Marcello, Anthony Boadle, 5/22/19, Reuters) 

Brazil's lower house of Congress voted on Tuesday to allow foreign-controlled airlines to operate domestic flights in Latin America's largest economy, opening the door to more competition in an increasingly concentrated market.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless president invokes executive privilege (Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey May 21, 2019, Washington Post)

[A]ccording to the IRS memo, which has not been previously reported, the disclosure of tax returns to the committee "is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs."

The 10-page document says the law "does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met" and directly rejects the reason Mnuchin has cited for withholding the information.

"[T]he Secretary's obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee . . . to state a reason for the request," it says. It adds that the "only basis the agency's refusal to comply with a committee's subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege."

And there is, by definition, no basis for a privilege claim.