May 25, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:37 PM


What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019: The idea of economic amends for past injustices and persistent disparities is getting renewed attention. Here are some formulas for achieving the aim. (Patricia Cohen, May 23, 2019, NY Times)

If you're surprised that the issue of reparations for black Americans has taken so long to resolve, blame the president. President Andrew Johnson.

As the Civil War wound down in 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman made the promise that would come to be known as "40 acres and a mule" -- redistributing a huge tract of Atlantic coastline to black Americans recently freed from bondage. President Abraham Lincoln and Congress gave their approval, and soon 40,000 freedmen in the South had started to plant and build.

Within months of Lincoln's assassination, though, President Johnson rescinded the order and returned the land to its former owners. Congress made another attempt at compensation, but Johnson vetoed it.

Now, in the early phase of the 2020 presidential campaign, the question of compensating black Americans for suffering under slavery and other forms of racial injustice has resurfaced. [...]

A recurring theme has been to return to that first official action promising 40 acres and a mule. Sherman drew up his order after posing this directive to a group of black ministers and leaders: "State in what manner you think you can take care of yourselves."

What would Sherman's promise be worth today?

Mr. Darity has been mulling that question for years, and is writing a book on reparations with Kirsten Mullen, due out next year. He begins with the cost of an acre in 1865: about $10. Forty acres divided among a family of four comes to 10 acres per person, or about $100 for each of the four million former slaves. Taking account of compounding interest and inflation, Mr. Darity has put the present value at $2.6 trillion. Assuming roughly 30 million descendants of ex-slaves, he concluded it worked out to about $80,000 a person.

...with an exemption for a first time home purchase.

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 PM


A Wise Pause on Marijuana Legalization: New Jersey and New York are right to be wary of unintended consequences. (Editorial Board, May 19, 2019, bLOOMBERG)

Since Colorado legalized pot in 2014, emergency-room visits related to its use have spiked. Patients complain of repeated vomiting, racing hearts, episodes of psychosis and other symptoms -- linked especially to high-potency cannabis.

On Colorado roads, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes while under the influence of marijuana has more than doubled. That's hardly surprising, given the evidence that marijuana impairs driving ability. Compounding the problem, tests to measure a driver's marijuana use are imperfect and police apply them inconsistently.

Scientists, hampered by restrictions on cannabis research, have yet to fully investigate its effects on health. But it's known that marijuana, once smoked or eaten, acts on receptors essential to normal brain function. It impairs coordination, thinking and memory, and when used by adolescents, the cognitive effects can last for many years. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs and speeds the heart rate. Persistent use can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, social withdrawal, depression and addiction.

Regular marijuana smokers tend to drop out of school and quit their jobs, studies show. There's evidence as well that they become susceptible to other kinds of drug abuse and addiction.

Pot is the next tobacco.

Posted by orrinj at 7:09 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:03 PM


Will Brazil take the Venezuelan or Chilean Path? (Helio Veiga Jr. Veiga  , 5/25/19, FEE)

[A]mong so many socialist economies, one country stood out positively because it was saved by the ideas of the "Chicago Boys."

They were a group of Chilean students studying economics under the guidance of Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger. These young economists would lead Chile to a prosperous era known as "the Chilean economic miracle," which represented a time of unprecedented implementations of free-market ideas and economic growth.

Before this radical economic transformation took place in Chile, the country was haunted by the mistakes of Salvador Allende and his predecessors, who had been governing Chile with excessive state control. When Allende was removed from his presidential position, Chile was suffering the effects of hyperinflation at the rate at 286 percent, government bankruptcy, severe scarcity of basic goods, and the downfall of the country's economic and political structures.

As a positive outcome of the Chilean free-market revolution, the economy has boomed and become stronger.

In 1974, a coup d'├ętat took place granting Chile's presidency to Augusto Pinochet. The new military regime decided to allow a group of classical liberal experts to implement free-market ideas and the principles of capitalism and freedom, and for as much as it may sound paradoxical considering those ideas were implemented during a military regime, Pinochet trusted the young classical liberal economists to carry out these laissez-faire policies.

It is important to highlight that even though Chile developed a strong economy, it happened at the cost of great human rights violations, with a plethora of crimes and casualties taking place under Pinochet's regime (1974-1990). 

Despite the chaotic horrors perpetrated by Pinochet, the Chicago Boys managed to develop an economic plan to boost a free market revolution that would bequeath a positive economic outcome to Chileans, booming the economy and making it stronger.

As a positive outcome of the Chilean free-market revolution, the economy has boomed and become stronger. This has made Chile a key example of the power of the free market and capitalism with limited government intervention. The numbers and facts do not lie. Chile's poverty rate indicates that there has been a major decrease in poverty in the years since 1990. The inflation rate has also gone down drastically, from its highest of 746.3 percent in April of 1974 to only 2 percent in March of 2019. However, the free-market magic did not stop there.

With the privatization of its pension system, Chile started to experience a high level of economic growth and individual prosperity--so much so that today it is the richest country in South America (with the highest GDP per capita), as well as the freest one, among South American countries.

According to the CATO Institute 2018 Human Freedom Index, Chile occupies the 32nd position in the overall rank that analyzed a total of 162 countries. It is the freest country among its neighbors: Uruguay (43rd), Peru (47th), Suriname (67th), Paraguay (72nd), Ecuador (83rd), Colombia (87th), Bolivia (92nd), Argentina (107th), Brazil (123rd), and Venezuela (161st).

In the aforementioned list of countries, Brazil only ranks higher than its South American neighbor Venezuela (161st), which is second to last of the entire rank. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:29 PM


Federal Court Signals That President Trump Will Ultimately Lose Battle Over Border Wall (Elura Nanos, May 25th, 2019, Law & Crime)

[O]n the question central to the judge's decision - whether Trump has the legal right to fund the border wall - Judge Gilliam had plenty to say.

If Trump actually thought he had authority to do this, he wouldn't have asked Congress first.

Sometimes, that whole "better to ask forgiveness than permission" thing works for government, too. Judge Gilliam brought up a little legal history that would have been eerily familiar to the Trump Administration if anyone there had ever actually studied constitutional law. During the Korean war, President Harry Truman sought federal control over the steel industry. Just as Trump did with border funding, Truman asked Congress first; when Congress refused, Truman declared that he had independent authority to take control, based on "national emergency" standards. Ruling against executive authority, the Supreme Court called out Truman for making an illogical argument: if he actually believed he had independent authority, why did he bother asking Congress first?

The similarity wasn't lost on Judge Gilliam, who wasn't about to endorse the actions of a president looking to "disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."

Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Trump's main argument for border wall funding is based on presidential power to fund "national emergencies." The entire concept of an "emergency" - both legally and logically - is that it requires circumstances for which advance planning was impossible. Nothing could be further from the truth with regard to Trump and his trumped-up border crisis. "Build a wall" was Trump's battle cry even before he became president, and little has changed since then (unless you're counting the edit from "Mexico pays" to "the Pentagon pays").

Judge Gilliam just wasn't buying what Trump was peddling; any "need" for a border wall was exactly the opposite of "unforeseen":

Defendants' argument that the need for the requested border barrier construction funding was "unforeseen" cannot logically be squared with the Administration's multiple requests for funding for exactly that purpose dating back to at least early 2018.

The court's opinion also included a spectacular smack-down in a footnote.  Trump's argument -- that the need for border-wall funding was "unforeseen," because he thought Congress would simply appropriate the money - actually helps the plaintiffs' side of this lawsuit.

If ... the Administration expected, or hoped, that Congress would appropriate the funds to DHS directly, that highlights rather than mitigates the present problem with Defendants' position.

This is going to cause serious constitutional problems.

Although Judge Gilliam's language is more complex than Schoolhouse Rock, his message isn't far off. Congress is in charge of the federal budget, and the president is not. Judge Gilliam found that if the court were to "permit this massive redirection of funds" it would amount to an "unbounded authorization for [the president] to rewrite the federal budget, and "would pose serious problems under the Constitution's separation of powers principles."

In other words, Trump is attempting to step all over Congress' turf, and he should really just stay in his own damn lane if we're to avoid a constitutional disaster.

Back when we were kids, Republicans used to complain about activists judges who overturned legislatures and constitutional case law. Nowadays. we have Donald acting against the legislature and Court precedent and his fans praying activist judges will support him.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:01 AM


Socialism Is More Popular Than Donald Trump: The president is campaigning against socialism. New polling suggests he is failing. (John Nichols, 5/25/19, The Nation)

The numbers are in. The president is down. Socialism is up.

"Trump Approval Edges Down to 42%," read the headline from a May 17 Gallup review of its latest polling on the president's appeal.

Three days later, Gallup reported that "43% of Americans say socialism would be a good thing for the country."

That's right--after months of attacking socialism, Trump came into mid-May with a 42 percent approval rating while socialism scored a 43.

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 AM


Episode 107: It All Goes Back To Cyrus the Great (JONAH GOLDBERG, May 24, 2019, NRO: The Remnant Podcast)

Is America going to war with Iran? What is John Bolton up to? What does Cyrus the Great have to do with it? AEI scholar Ken Pollack joins The Remnant to answer these and other questions.

Episode 106: Blame the Boomers (JONAH GOLDBERG, May 22, 2019, The Remnant Podcast)

Is everything the Boomers' fault? Are Millennials actually the victims? Is Gen X the best generation? Jonah brings Wall Street Journal editorial board member and author of 'Theft of a Decade: How the Baby Boomers Stole the Millennials' Economic Future' Joe Sternberg onto The Remnant to answer these and other questions.

Especially fun when Mr. Sternberg realizes that there were no differences between presidents from the 80s to Donald. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:58 AM


Posted by orrinj at 6:40 AM


Iran calling: How Iranians use humor to cope with Trump (Reza H. Akbari May 24, 2019, Al-Monitor)

[M]edia reported that the White House had provided a phone number to the Swiss Embassy -- America's protective power in Iran -- in case Tehran wants to call to ease the tensions. This reportedly prompted hundreds of prank calls to Switzerland's diplomatic mission.

Popular Iranian animator Soroush Rezaee, who publishes under the brand SooriLand, made a short clip of Trump being awakened by the proverbial 3 a.m. phone call. In the clip, the phone rings in the middle of the night, and Trump sits up, exclaiming, "It's the Iranians! They finally called!" But when he picks up the phone, the voice at the other end, adding insult to injury, attempts to sell him a hair-loss treatment. Consecutive callers try to sell the president things, including a vacation package. After a few more calls, Trump laments that his leaked number is in the hands of Iranian telemarketers.

An Iranian Twitter user posted an imagined conversation between Trump and the first lady, in which Trump tells Melania, "Stop talking on the phone for so long, maybe [the Iranians] will call and get a busy signal!"

The Trump jokes are typical of Iranian political humor -- a form of resilience. Despite the tumultuous history of the Islamic Republic, there has always been room for jokes. During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, arguably the most harrowing period for Iran in recent memory, the population coped with the grim realities of war with jest and humorous anecdotes. A well-known self-deprecating joke goes as follows: A field radio operator sends a message to headquarters, reporting that he has captured 5,000 Iraqi soldiers and that the Iranian military should come and get them. The base replies, "Why don't you bring them yourself?" The operator replies, "Well, they won't let me leave!"

But nothing beats the esoteric, family-specific war experiences, which are often impossible to share with outsiders. I never laugh harder than when my family shares their funny war memories, but when I repeat them to non-Iranian friends, I get a polite chuckle at best. Perhaps the English author David John Lodge was right when he defined a nation as "a group of people who laugh at the same stuff."

All comedy is conservative.

Posted by orrinj at 6:26 AM


Pro-Israel group defends German far-right party's anti-Muslim campaign poster (BEN SALES, 5/25/19, JTA

A conservative pro-Israel think tank has come to the defense of a far-right German party over a campaign ad depicting dark-skinned Muslim slavers bargaining over a naked white woman. [...]

On Friday, the Middle East Forum -- whose stated mission is to protect "Western values from Middle Eastern threats" -- shared an essay by Raymond Ibrahim defending the AfD's message and [...] he said later that he believes Muslim migration to Europe is an "alien aggression which one is bringing on themselves." Ibrahim suggested "curtailing migration" and accused Muslim migrants of committing a high degree of sexual assault, though he said he had not looked at data on the issue.

Posted by orrinj at 6:23 AM


Owners of biblical Noah's ark replica sue over rain damage to property (USA Today, 5/24/19)

The owner of the life-size replica of Noah's Ark in Northern Kentucky has sued its insurers for refusing to cover rain damage.

Posted by orrinj at 6:20 AM


Inside Trump's Air Force One: 'It's like being held captive' (Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak,  May 25, 2019, CNN)

President Donald Trump's visit to Tokyo this weekend kicks off a summer of global jet-setting that takes him to five separate countries -- and confines him to the presidential aircraft for more than 80 hours flying overseas.

Not always an eager traveler, Trump has complained in the past about the pace of his foreign travel or the accommodations arranged for him abroad. It's his aides, however, who sometimes dread boarding Air Force One for a lengthy flight overseas, knowing full well the boss will make little use of the bed wedged into the nose of the plane.

"It's like being held captive," one official said of traveling with the President on Air Force One.

Current and former officials have described White House trips as grueling endeavors accompanied by long hours, but several privately said the flights overseas are easily the worst. The duration can stretch nearly 20 hours. Sleeping space is limited. The televisions are streaming Fox News constantly. And if the headlines flashing across the bottom of the screen are unfavorable to their boss, aides know it's time to buckle up for a turbulent ride.

The President boarded Air Force One Friday for the 14-hour flight to Tokyo, and his staff were gearing up for a particularly hellish ride. An event the previous day was supposed to focus on relief for farmers who have been hurt by tariffs, but it quickly devolved into a venting session for Trump, who called the Democratic House speaker "crazy" and said Democrats were trying to inflict a "thousand stabs" on him.

Posted by orrinj at 6:14 AM


Trump urges scrutiny of Australia's role in 'Russia hoax' (SBS, 5/25/19)

US Special Counsel Bob Mueller's report on links between the Trump campaign and Russia, pointed to a 2016 meeting between then Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and Australian high commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer in a London bar as prompting the FBI to open its Trump-Russia probe.

The FBI probe led to Mr Mueller being appointed as special counsel.

Mr Papadopoulos has claimed Mr Downer spied on him during the bar meeting, a claim which Mr Downer has rejected.

Mr Downer did say Mr Papadopoulos told him at the bar Russia had damaging material on Trump's presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

The information was forwarded to Canberra and then passed on to US intelligence services and the FBI.

6 key findings from Papadopoulos' guilty plea in Russia probe (CRISTIANO LIMA 10/30/2017, Politico)

He lied about meeting a professor with "substantial" ties to the Kremlin

Papadopoulos met with a professor from abroad who had "substantial" connections to Russian government officials on or around March 14, 2016. While Papadopoulos told federal authorities the meeting came prior to him joining Trump's campaign, it in fact occurred in early March, documents show, after he joined the team. The meeting also came about because of the professor's interest in Papadopoulos' role with the Trump camp. They again discussed campaign-related matters on April 26, 2016, after Papadopoulos had been on the campaign team for more than a month.

Papadopoulos also lied to the FBI about the extent of his awareness of the professor's Moscow connections, calling him "a nothing" who was "just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something," when in reality he knew of his link to the Kremlin.

He discussed "dirt" on Hillary Clinton and her "thousands of emails"

Papadopoulos admitted to authorities that the professor had told him that he possessed "dirt" on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her "thousands of emails." The professor also discussed the emails during their meeting in April after Papadopoulos had joined the campaign.

He met with someone described as "a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin"

During his meeting with the Kremlin-linked professor, Papadopoulos was introduced to a female Russian national who was described to him as a "relative" of the Russian leader. The court filing says she possessed "connections to senior Russian government officials."

Papadopoulos tried to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin

Documents say Papadopoulos, "over a period of months," sought to use the connections of the professor and the woman described as Putin's relative to set up a summit between the campaign and the Russian government.