June 7, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 PM


Thoughts on the Michael Sussmann Verdict (Benjamin Wittes, June 1, 2022, Lawfare)

In the years since Donald Trump's election, the former president's supporters and opponents have often seemed to occupy entirely separate factual universes regarding both his conduct and the investigations of it. 

In the factual universe occupied by Trump's opponents, the former president serially engaged in the grossest of misbehavior, he was rightly subject to repeated investigations as a result, and he took aggressive and inappropriate actions to frustrate these investigations--leading to further investigative interactions.

Conversely, in the factual universe occupied by the former president's supporters, a conspiracy to defame and discredit Trump--led by the Hillary Clinton campaign and including the campaign's lawyers and investigators, the media and the FBI--developed during the 2016 campaign. The investigations of Trump during the campaign and subsequent to it were based not on any good faith belief, let alone any reality, that he or the people around him had done anything wrong. They were, rather, a "hoax"--a deliberate attempt to defraud the public.  

These two competing worldviews have long existed on parallel planes. They show up at the same congressional hearings and compete for airtime. Viewers can switch between them with a click of a remote control. But they almost never actually confront one another. 

Until, that is, the trial of a lawyer named Michael Sussmann, who was acquitted Monday morning by a federal jury in Washington DC. The Sussmann trial presented the closest thing we have seen to a simple showdown between these two worldviews. 

On the one side was Special Counsel John Durham, appointed by former Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate wrongdoing in the Russia investigation, peddling a semi-respectable version of the Trumpist theory of the case. 

On the other side was a lawyer facing a single charge of lying to the FBI, who argued at trial that he had tried to give the FBI a heads up about a weird new line of possible connection between Trump and Russia before it broke in the press. 

The trial, concerning this sole alleged false statement at a single brief meeting, took two whole weeks to present to the jury. 

It took that jury just six hours to reach a unanimous verdict of acquittal.   [...]

As the jury forewoman put it to NPR in the trial's wake, "I feel like we could have spent our time more wisely." 

Posted by orrinj at 5:44 PM

60-40 NATION:

The Center Lane is Wide Open (John Halpin, 6/07/22, Liberal Patriot)

According to fresh new polling from Global Progress and YouGov, conducted among more than 10,000 respondents in 9 leading democracies, an eye-catching 44 percent of Americans today place President Biden on either the very left-wing (30 percent) or somewhat left-wing (14 percent) side of the ideological scale. Only 12 percent of Americans place Biden directly in the center of the political spectrum, with another 14 percent placing him on the center-left.

Perceptions of former President Trump are even more extreme: nearly 4 in 10 Americans place Trump on the very right-wing side of the political scale and another 17 percent see him as somewhat right-wing. A mere 7 percent of Americans place Trump in the ideological center and another 8 percent on the center right.

Likewise, about one third of Americans overall view the Democratic Party as very left-wing and an equal percentage view the Republican Party as very right-wing. Only around 10 percent of Americans place either Democrats or Republicans in the center of the ideological spectrum, respectively.

In stark contrast to perceptions of their national leaders and the two parties, one quarter of Americans place themselves directly in the center of the ideological spectrum, with another 18 percent placing themselves either on the center-left or center-right in equal percentages. Only 1 in 10 Americans place themselves on either the far left or the far right, respectively. There's clearly a wide gulf between how Americans conceive of their own politics versus those represented by their national leaders and the two political parties.

Posted by orrinj at 5:42 PM


Cash: Rays players not wearing LGBTQ logos won't divide team (AP, June 5, 2022)

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash addressed it after Sunday's game, saying he doesn't think it'll negatively impact the clubhouse because discussions among the players over past few weeks were constructive and emphasized the value of differing perspectives.

"First and foremost, I think the organization has done a really good thing to have Pride Night's supporting our gay community to come out and have a nice night at the ballpark," Cash said. "Impressed that our players have had those conversions and we want to support our players that choose to wear or choose not to wear to the best of our capabilities."

Reliever Jason Adam was among those who opted out, and said it was a "faith-based decision" for him.

"It's just what we believe the lifestyle he's (Jesus) encouraged us to live for our good, not to withhold," Adam told the Tampa Bay Times. "But we love these men and women, we care about them and we want them to feel safe and welcome here."


Posted by orrinj at 5:38 PM


In Reaganesque way, Ben Sasse takes on isolationists, American cynics, and Red Chinese (QUIN HILLYER, 6/07/22, Washington Examiner)

Eventually, Sasse segued into an exuberant re-enunciation of the "American idea" and a renunciation of the loud voices on both the political Left and Right who say our constitutional system neither works nor can work anymore.

"We should reject all such warped visions of this glorious inheritance we've received," said the Nebraska senator. "It's liars who tell us that our Constitution is obsolete, that principled pluralism can't possibly work anymore, that the very act of believing we can make it work again is quaint."

Alas, he said, "Think how long it's been since the American people have heard a big, optimistic, Reagan-like, aspirational message."

To his own Republican Party and conservative movement, Sasse offered a corrective: "American conservatives don't traffic in grievance. Our party must reject politicians who tell the American people that we're victims. We embrace leaders who tell the American people that we can write our own destiny. Americans have never wallowed in self-pity. The people who built this country and passed it on to us sought to make it better and more expansive and more inclusive. ... We in this country and in this party embrace leaders who understand that America makes legends, not victims."

Be easier to take him seriously had he voted to convict the cynical Isolationist Xi-supporter...either time he had the chance.

Posted by orrinj at 5:35 PM


Posted by orrinj at 11:51 AM


California is about to experience a political earthquake. Here's why (Ronald Brownstein, June 7, 2022, CNN)

An earthquake is building in Tuesday's California elections that could rattle the political landscape from coast to coast.

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of the nation's most liberal large cities, voters are poised to send stinging messages of discontent over mounting public disorder, as measured in both upticks in certain kinds of crime and pervasive homelessness.

That dissatisfaction could translate into the recall of San Francisco's left-leaning district attorney, Chesa Boudin, likely by a resounding margin, and a strong showing in the Los Angeles mayoral primary by Rick Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer and former Republican who has emerged as the leading alternative in the race to Democratic US Rep. Karen Bass, once considered the front-runner.

Linking both these contests -- as well as several Los Angeles City Council races and an ongoing effort to recall George Gascon, Los Angeles County's left-leaning district attorney -- is a widespread sense among voters in both cities that local government is failing at its most basic responsibility: to ensure public safety and order. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


What Antisemitic Conspiracy Theorists Believe About Vaccines (ELLEN WEXLER, 6/02/22, Moment)

In early January, the governor of Utah, the state Senate's minority whip, the owner of the Utah Jazz basketball team, and many of the region's prominent tech CEOs were all recipients of a mass email titled simply: "Genocide."

"I write this email knowing that many of you will think I'm crazy after reading it," the email began. "I believe there is a sadistic effort underway to euthanize the American people. It's obvious now. It's undeniable, yet no one is doing anything." 

It all comes back to vaccines, he explains. And what's more: "I believe the Jews are behind this." 

The rest of the email is riddled with misinformation and antisemitic tropes: that "the Jews" secretly created the COVID-19 vaccines to weaken immune systems. That they hope to kill billions of people this way. That American Hasidic Jews "instituted a law for their people that they are not to be vaccinated for any reason." The message, first reported by the local television station KSTU, stunned the Utah tech community. Equally stunning was who wrote it: Dave Bateman, cofounder of the Utah-based property management startup Entrata, which had just achieved a $1 billion valuation. The company's board of directors asked Bateman to step down, which he did--less than 24 hours after pressing "send."

From day one, COVID-19 vaccines have been a target of antisemitic conspiracy theories. But to understand them, it's important to start with conspiracy theories about the virus itself. As soon as the pandemic began, conspiracists were blaming it on the Jews. These early theories were usually some variation of the idea that Jews created the virus, or that they were trying to control it. In May 2020, a University of Oxford study found that nearly 20 percent of adults in England agreed to some extent with the statement that "Jews have created the virus to collapse the economy for financial gain." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

SUNUNU 2024:

REPORT: Granite State's Economy Fifth Best in Nation (Damien Fisher, 6/06/22, NH Journal)

New Hampshire has one of the strongest state economies in the country, with high rates of high-tech jobs, low unemployment, and a GDP growth rate that outperforms California, according to a new data analysis from WalletHub. 

The report, which looked at how each state's economy has fared since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic recession, ranks the Granite State as the fifth-best economy in America, behind Washington state, Utah, California, and Massachusetts.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Greene Hires Pedo-Promoting Alt-Right Agitator Milo Yiannopoulos (David Badash, June 07 | 2022, National Memo)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has hired a far right-wing agitator and activist who appeared to support sexual "relationships" between boys as young as 13 and older men.

In 2016 Milo Yiannopoulos said, "I think in the gay world some of the most important, enriching, and incredibly life-affirming, important shaping relationships very often between younger boys and older men."

The MAGA brand.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Energy crisis reminds us why we need a rapid shift to renewables, says AEMO chief (Sophie Vorrath, 7 June 2022, Renew Economy)

The head of the Australian Energy Market Operator has stressed the continued, rapid build-out of large-scale renewable generation capacity must remains the nation's top priority, both to drive down energy costs and to get the grid to net-zero emissions.

Speaking at the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, AEMO chief Daniel Westerman said "getting enough energy into the system" is top of the list of things he worries most about.

And the cheapest way to do that, he added, is to ramp up the rollout of large-scale solar and wind energy to the tune of a nine-fold increase - from 15GW today to 140GW by 2050 - which is what is being forecast in AEMO's latest Integrated System Plan.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Steve Earle & the Dukes: Jerry Jeff (Bob Fish, 6/07/22, Spectrum Culture)

Earle makes it clear that Jerry Jeff Walker always was the man, "I wanted to be Jerry Jeff Walker more than anything else in the world at one point, long before I ever even met those guys. He's the glue to all of that for me." In fact, thanks to Walker he had his first experience with hitchhiking, "He was the first person I ever hitchhiked to go see," he recalls. "I went up to Austin on his birthday one year and I crashed his birthday party."

Eventually, while living in Nashville at the ripe old age of 19, he became Walker's driver. "He'd reached a point where he couldn't afford to get stopped in Nashville anymore. So, he'd come and get me to drive for him, which may or may not have been smart. But I didn't have as many dings on my license." What Earle learned could fill a book, or in this case, a CD.

His feel for the music of Walker is spot on, part of the credit going to The Dukes who have played with Earle for over a decade. Three of them are Texans and there's a connection to Walker's music just by being a part of that Texas culture. A song like "Getting' By" exists because Walker was able to capture the essential parts of what it means to be alive in that state of life. The Dukes play with a casual grace highlighting the musical landscape. The fiddle solo segues into the pedal steel perfectly with the kind of casual grace Walker always had.

While Walker was a great interpreter of other people's material (especially the songs of Guy Clark) Earle keeps the focus tightly on Walker as a writer.