July 10, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 3:59 PM


Trump 'dossier' author grilled by Justice Department watchdogs: sources (Mark Hosenball, 7/10/19, Reuters)

Three attorneys from the Inspector General's office of the U.S. Department of Justice met in person in early June with dossier author Christopher Steele in Britain, said two sources with direct knowledge of the lawyers' travels.

The interview with Steele, a former top spy on Russia for Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, took place while Trump was in London for a formal state visit with Queen Elizabeth and a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Steele's dossier, made public in 2017, alleged that Moscow attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and that there was potential collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign, along with other unverified and salacious claims about the president. [...]

One of the two sources said Horowitz's investigators appear to have found Steele's information sufficiently credible to have to extend the investigation. Its completion date is now unclear.

So dies the Trumpbots last hope.

Posted by orrinj at 11:12 AM


Assad hits a wall in Syrian war as front lines harden (Tom Perry, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, 7/10/19, Reuters) 

President Bashar al-Assad's assault in the northwest has been met with a painful rebel counterpunch that underlines Turkish resolve to keep the area out of his hands and shows why he will struggle to take back more of Syria by force.

More than two months of Russian-backed operations in and around Idlib province have yielded little or nothing for Assad's side. 

It's almost like the UR only used Assad and Putin to do they dying in the war on ISIS and they got nothing in return.

Posted by orrinj at 8:40 AM


Trump softened stance on Hong Kong protests to revive trade talks (Financial Times, 7/10/19)

Donald Trump told Chinese president Xi Jinping last month that the US would tone down criticism of Beijing's approach to Hong Kong following massive protests in the territory in order to revive trade talks with China.

The US president made the commitment when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Osaka, according to several people familiar with the meeting. One person said Mr Trump made a similar pledge in a phone call with Mr Xi ahead of the G20 summit.

It would be sufficient if he were only oppressing a billion mainland Chinese, throw in what-we-must-not-call-concentration-camps-because-of-the-Holocaust for Muslims and the attempt to take over Taiwan and Hong Kong and it's no wonder Donald can look past his ethnicity.

Posted by orrinj at 8:36 AM

GIRL POWER (profanity alert):

Trump ramping up criticisms of Fox, usually a friendly venue (DAVID BAUDER and JONATHAN LEMIRE, July 8, 2019, AP)

No president has been so closely aligned with a single news outlet as Trump is with Fox News, so his criticism carried added significance. While it was not the first time he has singled out Fox, it was the most pointed, raising the question of how the network, and the president's supporters, would respond.

Trump on Sunday night wrote that watching Fox on the weekend was worse than watching CNN and MSNBC, outlets he frequently attacks. He said Fox is "loading up with Democrats" and criticized the network for using The New York Times as a source for a story. He also attacked Fox for hiring former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile as a contributor and poked at afternoon host Shepard Smith's ratings.

"Fox News is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there," Trump wrote.

Fox did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While it was not clear what Trump was specifically responding to, he was particularly annoyed by Fox correspondent Greg Palkot's live report from a sports bar in France, where patrons erupted in a "F--- Trump" chant, according to two advisers not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

Fox also aired two segments about immigration Sunday that used as a hook a Times story that said workers at a child detention center in Texas are "grappling with the stuff of nightmares," according to Matthew Gertz of the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America.

Posted by orrinj at 8:21 AM


The difference being that he is the head of government leading these attacks on business. They are just consumers.
Posted by orrinj at 8:15 AM


Rapper Nicki Minaj cancels Saudi concert over women's rights concerns (SBS, 7/09/19)

Minaj's scheduled appearance in the western city of Jeddah next week as part of a cultural festival had triggered a social media backlash over human rights in the country.

"After careful reflection, I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest," Minaj said in a statement sent to AFP by her publicist.

"While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression."

Posted by orrinj at 7:48 AM


The Democrats really are coming for your guns (Lawrence G. Keane, 7/09/19, Fox News)

Anti-gun politicians once were coy about their goals. President Barack Obama told PBS's Gwen Ifill during a town hall in 2016, "And at no point have I ever, ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it's just not true."

Now the presumed front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden has put the entire firearms manufacturing industry in his crosshairs.  "Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers," Biden said.

Not a single candidate on the stage denounced the comment. Their silence is tacit agreement. Every Democratic candidate is now gunning for an industry that supports 312,000 jobs earning $15.7 billion in wages and has a total economic impact over $52 billion.

Republican glee/fretting over Democrats blowing their shot at Donald reflects just how disconnected the Beltway is from America on issues like guns, health care, immigration etc., where prohibitive majorities of the American people are well to the "left" of even the Democratic Party.

Americans support gun control but doubt lawmakers will act: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Chris Kahn, 2/09/19, Reuters) 

Most Americans want tougher gun laws but have little confidence their lawmakers will take action, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday ahead of the one-year anniversary of the country's deadliest high school shooting.

The poll of more than 6,800 adults reflects widespread frustration with state and federal lawmakers after decades of mass shootings in the United States. The Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and staff.

According to the poll, 69 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans, want strong or moderate restrictions placed on firearms. To stop gun violence, 55 percent said they wanted policies that make it tougher to own guns, while 10 percent said making firearm ownership easier would be better.

The poll shows public support for strong firearms restrictions dipped slightly from a year ago, when the media was closely following the Parkland shooting, but overall support for gun restrictions has risen since the poll started asking about gun control in 2012.

Poll Shocker: Trump Ties With 'Unnamed Socialist' (I & I Editorial Board, 7/10/19, Issues & Insights)

[T]he Post/ABC poll asked one question that others haven't, and the results are truly startling.

In its matchups of Trump versus other Democratic candidates, the poll asked people to choose between the president and an unnamed "Democratic candidate who you regard as a socialist."

The result: A tie. Trump, 46%; Socialist, 46%.

Donald is literally a Socialist, trying to control private enterprise from the White House.  The socialist candidates aren't.

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 AM


Jeffrey Epstein Was a 'Terrific Guy,' Donald Trump Once Said. Now He's 'Not a Fan.' (Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 9, 2019, NY Times)

 It was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, Donald J. Trump's members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla. But other than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.

The year was 1992 and the event was a "calendar girl" competition, something that George Houraney, a Florida-based businessman who ran American Dream Enterprise, had organized at Mr. Trump's request.

"I arranged to have some contestants fly in," Mr. Houraney recalled in an interview on Monday. "At the very first party, I said, 'Who's coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.' It was him and Epstein."

Mr. Houraney, who had just partnered with Mr. Trump to host events at his casinos, said he was surprised. "I said, 'Donald, this is supposed to be a party with V.I.P.s. You're telling me it's you and Epstein?'"

In fact, that was the case, an indication of a yearslong friendship between the president and Mr. Epstein that some say ended only after a failed business arrangement between them. The full nature of their eventual falling out is not clear.

But through a mutual appreciation of wealth and women, and years of occupying adjacent real estate in Palm Beach and on Page Six, the lives of the two men routinely intersected for decades -- until the connection turned from a status symbol into a liability, and Mr. Trump made sure to publicize the fact that he had barred his onetime friend from his clubs.

"In those days, if you didn't know Trump and you didn't know Epstein, you were a nobody," said Alan Dershowitz, the longtime Harvard University Law School professor who later served on Mr. Epstein's defense team when he was charged with unlawful sex with minors in 2006.

Posted by orrinj at 7:34 AM



A few months ago prominent naturalist David Attenborough told attendees at the World Economic Forum about humanity's unsustainable population growth and his certainty that it has to "come to an end" quickly. In the meantime, he told participants, we should also eat a lot less meat. In delivering this message, Attenborough was once again echoing his long standing belief that "[a]ll of our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder - and ultimately impossible - to solve with ever more people."

Britain's "national treasure" is hardly alone in terms of holding this view. Indeed, from Thomas Robert Malthus to Paul Ehrlich most proponents of population control measures have argued that a significant population reduction - short of being achieved by an infrastructure-destroying army - would benefit the remaining inhabitants by giving them access to more and better resources. In an online debate with economist Bryan Caplan, economic historian Gregory Clark even argued that plagues ultimately "raised material living standards." As he put it, in England "1.5 million people died prematurely in 1349. In return 6 generations got to live very well with little further excess deaths. And then 1.5 million people got to live longer as the plague weakened its grip in the 16th century, and the population returned to its earlier level. The unlucky generation of 1349 was counterbalanced by the lucky generations of 1540--1620. God smiled on the English when he delivered the plague!"

And yet, as critics of this perspective have long argued, the population growth pessimists have always had things exactly backward. After all, as urban theorist Jane Jacobs wondered two generations ago, many parts of the world, such as portions of Ireland and Sicily, had by then been almost entirely depopulated by emigration, yet far from thriving their remaining inhabitants remained poor. As she put it: "One wonders how much a population is supposed to be reduced before prosperity ensues."

Indeed, virtually all the historical evidence suggests to the contrary that a more numerous population that engages in trade and innovative behavior is always better off. This can be traced back to two essential factors. The first is that a larger population that engages in trade and the division of labor will deliver greater material abundance per capita. The second is that the greater the number of human brains, the greater the likelihood of new beneficial inventions. As the British political economist William Petty observed over a century before Malthus, it was "more likely that one ingenious curious man may rather be found out amongst 4,000,000 than 400 persons."

Furthermore, present and future advances build on past ones. The economist Fritz Machlup thus summed up past debates over half a century ago by distinguishing between the "retardation school" of technological change, whose proponents believed that "the more that has been invented the less there is left to be invented," and the "acceleration school," according to which "the more that is invented the easier it becomes to invent still more" because "every new invention furnishes a new idea for potential combination with vast numbers of existing ideas" and the "number of possible combination increases geometrically with the number of elements at hand," a perspective that has long been vindicated.

When people persist in an ideology in the face of all evidence to the contrary, it is proper to attribute to them a faith in the causes not the effects.  Those who oppose population growth oppose our population of humans, just as those who oppose immigration oppose immigrants.

Posted by orrinj at 7:16 AM


There are more bald eagle nests than Pa. game commission can count (Mary Ann Thomas, July 4, 2019, TribLIVE)

There are too many bald eagle nests for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to count on its own, and it needs the public's help.

The agency used to release bald eagle nest numbers each year around July 4, when the birds were considered threatened in the state. But a comeback from just three nesting pairs in 1983 to more than 300 today has changed that.

"The population has expanded to a point where tracking individual nests is not feasible," said Sean Murphy, an ornithologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Once you stop hunting them, the rest is easy.

Posted by orrinj at 7:07 AM


The Imaginative Conservative at 9 (Bradley J. Birzer, July 9th, 2019, Imaginative Conservative)

Following upon inspiration from the writings of Russell Kirk, Winston gave this site distinctiveness by recognizing that "conservative" must be something beyond the cravings of Young Republican politicos (though, they're certainly welcome to join in all aspects of the life of his journal) and that conservatism could and should not be merely about free-market economics and nuclear (and non-nuclear) defenses. That is, Winston understood, if one is to be conservative, one must conserve what deserves to be conserved--all that is best in experience, all that is best in metaphysical desires, and all that is best in the word, reflecting always The Word.

And, today, on day 3,285 of this journal's existence, we're still talking, listening, thinking, and imagining.

With the profound success of his dissertation-turned-book, The Conservative Mind, Kirk worried that conservatism might too easily become yet merely one more "ideology" in a world drowning in them. All ideologues, Kirk realized, failed to imagine a world beyond their own egotistical desires. Only imagination allows us to see beyond our own limitations, to place ourselves in the shoes of another, to see beyond the failures and successes of our particular slice of time.

Inspired by Harvard's Irving Babbitt and Princeton's Paul Elmer More, Kirk found still more answers and more questions in a transcendent humanism, one that took into account the vast differences of persons while also recognizing the universals that hold all together.

It is imagination, Babbitt knew, that balances our higher understanding (the rationality of the mind) with the lower understanding (the passions of the stomach). The imagination allows us to see that which is not us. Ironically, though the least human aspect of us--the light reflected in our souls--imagination is what allows us to be most human.

"Among those who took up the defense of the traditional order against Rousseau, Burke is easily first, because he too perceived in how own way the truth that cold reason has never done anything illustrious," Babbitt explained in 1924. Burke "saw that the only conservatism that counts is an imaginative conservatism." In the twentieth century, Babbitt feared, our modern imagination tended toward disunity and chaos rather than toward unity and order. Progressivism, as such, has only become "novelty and change, with the piling up of discovery on discovery."

Babbitt's best friend, Paul Elmer More, made similar observations, noting that a real progress in society demanded two things from each person: restraint of will and generosity of imagination. "The instinctive distrust of uncontrolled human nature and the instinctive reliance on the imagination--are the very roots of the conservative temper, as their contraries are the roots of the liberal and radical temper, the lack of imagination, if any distinction is to be made, being the chief factor of liberalism and confidence in human nature being the main impulse of radicalism." Properly understood, imagination is "a force for order and self-restraint and political health," More concluded in 1915.

With apologies to Jonah Goldberg, this is the home of the Remnant.

Posted by orrinj at 6:51 AM


Posted by orrinj at 6:25 AM


From Iron Lady to lame duck: Hong Kong leader's departure seen as mere matter of time (Greg Torode, John Ruwitch, 7/10/19, Reuters) 

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's apologies and explanations for a doomed extradition bill have failed to quell political tension and her departure is now seen by many in the Chinese-ruled city as merely a matter of time in a drawn-out, long goodbye.

On Tuesday, Lam described the bill, which would have allowed people in Hong Kong, with its cherished rule of law, to be sent to mainland China for trial and pave the way for assets to be confiscated, as "dead".

But activists and protest groups said they could not trust her words and are increasing demands for her to officially withdraw the bill and step down.

And they are vowing further action, after weeks of huge and at times violent street protests that have plunged the city into its worst crisis since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997.

On Saturday, some groups will spread their message to mainland traders in a New Territories village near the city's border with China - a step seen as a further provocation of Communist Party leaders in Beijing.

And while Lam, a self-styled "Iron Lady", has vowed to stay on, her latest statements have only fueled speculation that she has already offered to quit.

Hong Kong is British, not Chinese.