September 19, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 7:54 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:08 PM


Two senior Democrats, Dick Durbin and Elizabeth Warren, want more federal oversight after after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent migrants to Martha's Vineyard. (Politico, 9/19/22)

What happened: Two senior Democrats, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Monday that more federal oversight over government funds was needed after reports that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may have used interest earned from federal Covid aid to pay to send migrants to Martha's Vineyard.

"I met with a group of mayors over the weekend and county officials. And I warned them months ago when we put this money on the table that I didn't want to hear about the world's greatest frisbee park being built as a result of it -- do something serious that we can defend. What DeSantis is doing is just a political stunt. ... That money should be spent at least for the people of Florida."

Not only did Senator Durbin kill W's immigration reform, but he's a recidivist.

A 'Poison Pill' In The Immigration Bill? (ZOE CHACE, 5/07/13, Planet Money)

That big immigration bill working its way through the Senate would let in lots more highly skilled workers on temporary visas. But there's a catch.

The bill says all employers who want to hire workers on these H-1B visas:

... would be required to advertise on an Internet website maintained by the Department of Labor and offer the job to any U.S. worker who applies and is equally or better qualified than the immigrants ... sought...

This language could be a "poison pill" for companies that want to hire workers on these visas, according to Ted Ruthizer, an immigration attorney with a big firm that works with companies who want to hire skilled foreign workers.

Under the provision, an American who applied for a job that went to a foreign worker on an H-1B visa could complain to the Department of Labor. The department could come back years later and audit the hiring process. Depending on the auditors' findings, the company could be fined and barred from the visa process for a few years.

"Employers may well decide they are not prepared to sift through hundreds or even thousands of resumes and then have to document the deficiencies of each US applicant to hire an H-1B professional, no matter how talented," Ruthizer told me. "How about preferring someone who is more articulate and expresses more original ideas? Are those reasons that the government will accept? I doubt it very much."

Sen. Dick Durbin is one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

The Left is the Right.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Horseshoe Theory Comes to Ukraine: Putin's Western apologists don't reflect the usual conflict between Left and Right--but rather comprise an example of both poles making common cause against the center. (The Quillette Editorial Board, 16 Sep 2022)

In a 1996 book, Le siècle des idéologies, French philosopher Jean-Pierre Faye articulated a "horseshoe theory" of politics, by which the extreme of Left and Right begin to curl back toward one another as they get more and more alienated from centrist politics. As one might expect, the theory has plenty of critics--since, needless to say, few leftists want to be lumped in with their opposite number on the Right, and vice versa. But any objective observer can see that there are a number of ideological elements--a tolerance for street violence; a desire to censor opposing viewpoints; a weakness for powerful strongmen; a disdain for due process and democratic politics; and a tendency to lionize foreign autocrats as offering some viable alternative to liberalism--that really do answer to horseshoe-theory analysis.

On the Left, opposition to the West's support for Ukraine isn't difficult to explain. Leftist figures such as Corbyn, Noam Chomsky, and Australian journalist John Pilger generally view the United States (and the West in general) as the main engine of evil in the world, and so are disposed to respond to any geopolitical crisis simply by putting down stakes on the opposite side of Western interests. (And to such extent as they can bring themselves to criticize the West's enemies, they will usually add, in the same breath, that their misdeeds are scarcely worse than those of white imperialists). It's a pattern of rhetoric that goes back generations.

When it comes to explaining right-wing agitation against Ukraine (or against Western support for Ukraine, at any rate), on the other hand, things are more complex. From the McCarthyism of the 1940s and 50s, to Ronald Reagan's famed "Tear down this wall" speech of 1987, conservative US politicians traditionally have been hyper-vigilant in regard to Russian militarism, sometimes to the point of paranoia.

But that reflex has been ebbing since the Cold War. The binary dynamic of capitalism versus communism is a thing of the past. China, not Russia, is now seen as America's most important competitor on the world stage. And since 9/11, militant Islam has rivalled (and often surpassed) communism as an object of concern within the Republican Party and conservative politics more generally.

Many American conservatives now dwell more on the moral threat from decadent progressive culture, far more than on any geopolitical threat looming over the West as a whole. And when it comes to the moral sphere, Putin is actually seen by many social conservatives as a kindred spirit, what with his frequent propaganda about traditional family values (as opposed to, as the Russian leader describes it, the "genderless and infertile" spirit of feminized Western institutions). Some Republicans have even seemed entranced by the macho-seeming aesthetics associated with Putin's personality cult. Back in 2014, Rudy Giuliani said of the Russian autocrat, he's "what you call a leader."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


NHGOP Candidates Trail In New Poll, but National Numbers Show Positive Trend (Michael Graham, 9/18/22, NH Journal)

With 60 percent of respondents unsure about their perceptions of Bolduc, "the next few weeks will be important for him as he tries to introduce himself to voters while his opponent will try to highlight his weaknesses," Kimball told NHJournal.

Which is why Democrats' money was able to nominate him. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Putin's new Ukraine problem: Even the war's biggest supporters are growing dissatisfied (Matthew Bodner, 9/18/22, NBC News)

The scale of the Russian military's and political leadership's setbacks in Ukraine have become too vast for even state media and pro-war activists to ignore.

"The special military operation has completely failed," Igor Girkin, who gained notoriety as one of the main leaders of Russia's initial efforts in eastern Ukraine back in 2014, said in a video this week. "Since March, we have had a full-fledged war. But until now, Russian authorities, the defense ministry, and general staff have behaved as if there's no war."

Igor Strelkov, who is also known as Igor Girkin, the top military commander of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," has thrived on the Telegram messaging service since the start of the war.Bulent Kilic / AFP via Getty Images file
Last week, he declared the war "already lost," and warned his audience of nearly half a million viewers that the war would continue until Russia's total defeat.

Girkin is himself a controversial figure among the marginal but increasingly vocal group of right-wing pro-war bloggers and activists who have thrived on the Telegram messaging service since the start of the war. Their views have traditionally run parallel to official state media messaging but are not firmly under the Kremlin's control. With Russian forces on the retreat, more and more they are accusing the leadership of betraying the troops.

"The Kremlin is worried about this panic sentiment," said Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "The pro-war activists are seen as allies, they are part of the broad pro-Putin consensus in Russia, the disagreement is just about tactics. So, the Kremlin actually has limited means to deal with this camp. They can't turn against them and suppress them the same way they did the liberal opposition."

Even soldiers who have fought in what the Kremlin insists on calling its "special operation" are returning home, refusing to go back to the front, and challenging the official narrative surrounding the war. As Ukraine retakes territory, videos are appearing online appearing to show massive amounts of equipment abandoned by retreating Russian soldiers.

Image: A Ukrainian soldier standing atop an abandoned Russian tank near a village on the outskirts of Izyum, Kharkiv Region, eastern Ukraine on Sept. 11, 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier standing atop an abandoned Russian tank near a village on the outskirts of Izyum on Sept. 11.Juan Barreto / AFP - Getty Images
While the television has told the public that they've been fighting a good, clean war, soldiers are telling their friends, families and fellow citizens stories of a chaotic, unclear and troubled operation.

"Russian society, just as the Russian army, is decaying and falling apart because of corruption," Pavel Filatyev, a Russian soldier who has published a scathing memoir of the first two months of the war, told NBC News. "So the Russian army often is not acting carefully, they are acting unprofessionally, and a lot of mistakes are being made."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'They enriched us.' Migrants' 44-hour visit leaves indelible mark on Martha's Vineyard (Ray Sanchez, 9/18/22, CNN)

After sharing hugs and teary goodbyes with roughly 50 migrants who had arrived unexpectedly by plane on this affluent vacation island, the volunteers who sheltered them at an Episcopal church carried out tables and chairs, packed food onto trucks and folded portable cots.

A familiar quiet had descended by Friday afternoon on the tree-lined downtown block on Martha's Vineyard, where Jackie Stallings, 56, could not stop thinking about a young Venezuelan - she was 23 but looked 15 - who sat with her in the St. Andrew's Parish House the night before.

The asylum seeker showed Stallings cell phone video taken during the journey across a remote Central American jungle, pointing out migrants who died along the way.

"It was like she was showing me cat videos but it was actually their journey and what they endured to get here," said Stallings, a member of the Martha's Vineyard Community Services nonprofit. "There were bodies and moms with babies trying to get through mud that was like clay."

"The heartbreaking part is seeing these beautiful young ladies become desensitized," said her husband, Larkin Stallings, 66, an Oak Bluffs bar owner who sits on the nonprofit's board. "For them, they just flip and show you a picture."

"She was like, look, this one died, part of their original party. And he died and this one died. The mud is like to up to here to them," she said Friday in the shade of the parish house porch, pointing to her thigh. "And you see them, they literally have to lift their legs out the mud. They die because they get stuck."

During their whirlwind 44-hour visit this week, migrants like the young Venezuelan woman left an indelible mark on their accidental hosts in this isolated enclave known as a summer playground for former US presidents, celebrities and billionaires.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Biden: US forces would defend Taiwan if China invades (Deutsche Welle, 9/19/22)

When asked on whether US forces would defend Taiwan if China invaded the island, Biden said "yes, if, in fact, there was an unprecedented attack."

Biden reiterated that the US maintains a "One China" policy and does not support Taiwan's independence.

Why shouldn't Taiwan be independent and why is he so much more comfortable killing Chinese than Russians?