June 10, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 1:49 PM


Only the Best Deals: How Trump Got Pantsed By Mexico (PHILIP ROTNER, JUNE 10, 2019, The Bulwark)

The threat of imposing an immediate 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods, and then gradually ratcheting up the rate to 25 percent, was never real. The stock market hated it. The Chamber of Commerce and other U.S. business groups hated it. American consumers hated it. American manufacturers and farmers hated it. Even Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz hated it.

The prospect of Trump dropping that stink bomb into the U.S. economy in the run-up to a presidential election year was always a non-starter. Not even Trump is that stupid.

And the Mexican government isn't stupid, either. They fully understood that Trump's only way out of the box he had put himself in was to find a way, any way, to withdraw his tariff threat by claiming that it had successfully forced Mexico to negotiate an immigration deal favorable to the United States.

But far from creating negotiating leverage, Trump's threat did the opposite: It immediately handed all of the leverage to Mexico.

While Trump might have created some leverage with his tariff threat had anyone believed he would follow through on it, everyone--including the Mexican government--knew he couldn't. They knew that Trump had to find a way to declare victory to give himself political cover for when he inevitably withdrew the threat.

Which meant that Mexico had Trump over a barrel. Trump's had two choices: to agree to whatever cosmetic arrangement Mexico was willing to offer; or to follow through on a threat that would be tantamount to political suicide.

Posted by orrinj at 1:38 PM


Poll: Trump Has Higher Favorability in New York Than de Blasio (David Rutz, June 10, 2019, Free Beacon)

A Siena College poll showed that 29 percent of New Yorkers view de Blasio favorably, with 53 percent viewing him unfavorably. Trump was viewed favorably by 34 percent, although he had a higher unfavorable rating at 63 percent. Only 3 percent didn't have an opinion on Trump, while 17 percent didn't have one on de Blasio.

The only thing that can save the Mayor is if Donald starts attacking him.

Posted by orrinj at 1:36 PM


U.S. senators target $1 billion a year coal subsidy, ask IRS for test results (Tim McLaughlin, 6/10/19, Reuters) 

Three U.S. senators on Monday urged the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on a $1 billion-a-year subsidy for burning chemically treated refined coal, after a new study showed some power plants using the fuel produced surging amounts of mercury and smog instead of cutting pollution.

Posted by orrinj at 1:32 PM


Justice Department to provide Mueller evidence to Congress: Nadler (Andy Sullivan, Makini Brice, 6/10/19, Reuters) 

The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to provide evidence gathered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation to lawmakers who are considering whether to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a top Democrat said on Monday.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will hold off on a threat to bring criminal contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr, as long as the Justice Department continues to provide materials sought by his committee.

Posted by orrinj at 1:29 PM


Southern Baptist president says racial insensitivity shows disregard for the gospel (Adelle M. Banks, 6/10/19, RNS) 

Speaking at a black church Sunday (June 9) in a city that is nearly 75% percent African American, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J.D. Greear, said white Christians who are racially insensitive are disregarding the gospel.

"I do not need to tell this church the church of the West has had a horrible history of racism," Greear, a pastor in North Carolina, told Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.

"And there's one primary reason that that happened: Christians lost touch with the gospel."

Greear, who had come to Birmingham for the upcoming annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, cited a verse from the New Testament book of Galatians in which he said the Apostle Paul issued a rebuke about "segregated eating," when some Christians from Jewish backgrounds stopped dining with Christians from Gentile backgrounds.

"The gospel teaches us that there's only one kind of person: human," said Greear. "We've all got the same problem: sin."

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 AM


Can You Reshape Your Brain's Response To Pain? (PATTI NEIGHMOND, 6/10/19, NPR)

But EAET, she learned from her clinical psychologist, Laura Payne, is a different sort of psychotherapy. It's one of several behavioral therapies (among other interventions) included in a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services titled "Pain Management Best Practices." According to the report, published May 9, "Research indicates that EAET has a positive impact on pain intensity, pain interference, and depressive symptoms."

EAET was developed in 2011 by psychologist Mark Lumley at Wayne State University and his colleague Dr. Howard Schubiner. It combines some techniques from traditional talk therapies (such as probing a patient's life experience for insight and context) with those of cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses more on skills training and changing harmful patterns of behavior.

It's an emotion-focused treatment, Lumley says, aimed at helping people who are in widespread, medically unexplained pain.

Any placebo will do.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps (JONATHAN M. KATZ, JUN 09, 2019, LA Times)

Photos from a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso showed people herded so tightly into cells that they had to stand on toilets to breathe. Memos surfaced by journalist Ken Klippenstein revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement's failure to provide medical care was responsible for suicides and other deaths of detainees. These followed another report that showed that thousands of detainees are being brutally held in isolation cells just for being transgender or mentally ill.

Also last week, the Trump administration cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors -- which were likened to "summer camps" by a senior ICE official last year. And there was the revelation that months after being torn from their parents' arms, 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in the parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas. In the last year, at least seven migrant children have died in federal custody.
Preventing mass outrage at a system like this takes work. Certainly it helps that the news media covers these horrors intermittently rather than as snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration. But most of all, authorities prevail when the places where people are being tortured and left to die stay hidden, misleadingly named and far from prying eyes.

There's a name for that kind of system. They're called concentration camps. You might balk at my use of the term. That's good -- it's something to be balked at.

The goal of concentration camps has always been to be ignored. The German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, who was imprisoned by the Gestapo and interned in a French camp, wrote a few years afterward about the different levels of concentration camps. Extermination camps were the most extreme; others were just about getting "undesirable elements ... out of the way." All had one thing in common: "The human masses sealed off in them are treated as if they no longer existed, as if what happened to them were no longer of interest to anybody, as if they were already dead."

Donald Trump's ex-wife once said Trump kept a book of Hitler's speeches by his bed (Business Insider Sep. 1, 2015)

"Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed ... Hitler's speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist," Marie Brenner wrote. [...]

When Brenner asked Trump about how he came to possess Hitler's speeches, "Trump hesitated" and then said, "Who told you that?"

"I don't remember," Brenner reportedly replied.

Trump then recalled, "Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of 'Mein Kampf,' and he's a Jew."

Brenner added that Davis did acknowledge that he gave Trump a book about Hitler.

"But it was 'My New Order,' Hitler's speeches, not 'Mein Kampf,'" Davis reportedly said. "I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I'm not Jewish."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Future Is Surprisingly Bright for Gun Control Advocates (Jennifer Victor, Jun 6, 2019, Medium)

[A]ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40,000 Americans died by gun violence in 2017, the highest number recorded, with the majority of those -- nearly 24,000 -- being deaths by suicide.

But gun control advocates have reason for at least a sliver of optimism: Public sentiment is finally changing around the issue. According to Pew Research Center, for the first time in 10 years, more Americans support controlling gun ownership (52% ) than support protecting gun rights (44%). Moreover, gun control advocacy groups were more mobilized in the 2018 election than pro-gun groups.

The gun control movement was largely catalyzed after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. Since that tragedy, we've seen a spate of advocacy groups spring up, including Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence, and Sandy Hook Promise. (We've also, and not coincidentally, seen a spate of atrocities, with, by some accounts an average of one mass shooting per week in the years since then.) Through their outreach and legislative efforts, these organizations have helped change the national dialogue about guns. They've also arrived as a much-needed counterbalance to the goliath of the gun rights movement: the National Rifle Organization. [...]

For the first time, the campaign political activity of gun control groups swamped that of the NRA in the 2018 cycle. What's more, the gun control advocacy movement has morphed into a multi-headed behemoth capable of challenging the NRA in the legislative, judicial, and state politics arenas, and advocating for stricter gun laws with alacrity and sophistication not seen before in the gun control movement.

Many gun control groups were created in response to specific gun violence events. Notable among these are the organizations created by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, herself a victim of gun violence, whose Giffords PAC spent nearly $18 million in the 2018 election cycle in direct and soft money expenditures. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety and its super PAC, Independence USA spent another $70 million in 2018 supporting candidates who support gun control.

Their efforts appear to be working. Public support for curtailing gun access is increasing. A recent poll found near unanimous support for universal background checks, finding that 97% of Americans support the measure. At least 15 Republican candidates with A-ratings from the NRA in 2018 lost their House bids, in part due to spending and campaigning from gun control groups.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Infinite Baseball review (Nathan Washatka - June 10, 2019, Front Porch Republic)

For Noë, the self-reflective nature of the game is brought out most clearly in the act of scorekeeping, whereby a scorekeeper must make judgements about, for example, what counts as a hit (versus an error) or a wild pitch (versus a passed ball). These are questions that can only be answered within the context of the game of baseball. In order to make those decisions, we must think carefully about what a hit is, or what an error is. Such decisions require judgement.

Consider the strike zone. Noë makes a fascinating argument about role of umpires, particularly when it comes to judging balls and strikes. The strike zone, he says, is not so much a three-dimensional space as it is a "zone of responsibility." A "strike" is a pitch that the hitter should be able to hit, so we can therefore fault him for not hitting it. A "ball" is a pitch that he should not reasonably be expected to hit, so we therefore don't fault him for not hitting it. That an umpire must render judgement for every pitch--and that players, managers, and fans often argue about those decisions--is appropriate for a sport that invites self-scrutiny.

Scorekeeping--the thing that I and my teammates did all those years ago--is fundamentally an act of assigning blame (a "forensic activity") for what happens on the field. The scorecard itself captures an interpretation of what has happened. "Baseball is about what people do, about what they accomplish in the social setting of the game," Noë writes. Determining what players have done--committed an error, failed to swing at a strike--is something that requires human judgement about questions of intent and effort, no different than how a judge or jury must decide whether a victim's death was murder or manslaughter or something accidental.

Noë is quick to point out that baseball is not alone in raising questions about itself and interpreting human intent. Other sports offer a similar opportunity for self-reflection, as do many or even most complex activities--activities that Noë has elsewhere described as "organized activities."

"It is the hallmark of all characteristically human activities--language, the law, other sports--that they are, in the sense I am trying to understand, baseball-like," Noë writes.

If baseball is unique, it's because the game makes explicit this loop of practice and interpretation through the act of scorekeeping. It formalizes the process of thinking about and commenting upon the game, which in turn affects the way the game is played. Keeping score is important work. It is a "knowledge-making activity," and one that every baseball fan, in theory, participates in.

Making judgements, interpreting actions--these are skills that require attention, knowledge, and a familiarity with the larger practice in which they take place. In other words, they require work. And they are not--I repeat, not--something that can be automated, nor should we want them to be. Looking outward to other "baseball-like" activities, Noë observes, "It would be a dark consequence of life in the digital age if we forgot that keeping score is more than keeping track, and that each of us has the power to keep score."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



What is beautiful is more than simply true and intelligible, although that is necessary; it must also be pleasing. In agreement with Aquinas, French philosopher Jacques Maritain writes that a beautiful thing is inherently desirable: "Therefore by its nature, by its very beauty, it stirs desire and produces love, whereas truth as such only illuminates."[4] Beauty is fundamentally composed of truth and attraction, both of which must be recognized for the object to be seen as beautiful.

When he esteems chivalry as highly as he does, Don Quixote is exhibiting a similar view of "the beautiful." The habit of chivalry is based in truth, for it deals with the essence of things, viewing women as women, men as men, and monsters as monsters. Chivalry is more than this, however; it is an expression of love, that other requirement for beauty. When the object of chivalry is loved, it draws its lover to itself, sharing of its beauty. We see that this principle can also find a deeper expression than chivalry, for the perfection of love is found in God, its source. God knew and loved and pursued us, the most beautiful creation, to the point of becoming one of us, and we love and pursue Him and in that degree become deified and beautiful in Him. Imitating the motion of divine love, then, Don Quixote sees things that are true, sees them as beautiful, and in pursuing them, rises to partake in them.

The lover becoming more like his beloved is the basis of our knight's defense of chivalry, which he offers to the canon of Toledo:

It is clear that any passage from any history of a knight errant is bound to delight and amaze anyone who reads it.... you will soon see how they banish any melancholy you might be feeling, and improve your disposition, if it is a bad one. Speaking for myself, I can say that ever since I became a knight errant I have been courageous, polite, generous, well-bred, magnanimous, courteous, bold, patient... (DQ, 458).

Chivalry and tales of it, therefore, dispose man to virtue, drawing him into closer union with the people and things which he loves, the things which "delight and amaze" him. To the extent that a chivalric knight becomes more like a beautiful thing and begins to understand it for what it really is, he cannot help treating it well and virtuously, as a part of himself which is good and noble.

...when readers recognized that only the Don is sane.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Tree symbolizing Trump-Macron friendship has died (AFP, 6/10/19)

[T]he tree came from a northern French forest where 2,000 US Marines died during World War II.

But a few days later, the tree was nowhere to be seen, having disappeared into quarantine.

"It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US," Gerard Araud, then the French ambassador to America, wrote on Twitter, adding that it would be replanted later.

But it was never replanted: the tree died during its quarantine, the diplomatic source said.