July 21, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 4:16 PM


McCarthy threatens to pull all his nominees from Jan. 6 committee after Pelosi rejects Republicans Jim Jordan, Jim Banks (Benjamin Siegel, July 21, 2021, ABC News)

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recommendations for the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy said he would pull all his Republican nominees unless she reverses course.

Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy's recommendations -- Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, a staunch defender of former President Donald Trump.

Banks and Jordan both voted to overturn the election results on Jan. 6 and Pelosi said their appointments could impact "the integrity of the investigation."

Posted by orrinj at 3:28 PM


African immigrants are uniquely poised to influence US policy (Yaw Okyere Thompson,  July 21, 2021, Quartz)

Before a crowded room of election-night supporters--many of whom looked like her--newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar described the historic occasion of her victory. "I stand here before you with many firsts behind my name: The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress; the first woman to wear a Hijab to represent us in Congress; the first refugee elected to Congress; and one of the first Muslims elected to Congress." The Somali American politician paved the way to victory with the support of the Somali community in Minnesota.

Increasingly, the African immigrant community bears the hallmarks of a group well on the way to self-determination within the American political system. In a way, they are not much different from the American Jews who built the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) into one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, or the Cuban Americans who could be considered political gatekeepers in Florida, one of the most important swing states on the electoral college map.

As of 2018, sub-Saharan African immigrants made up 44% of all black immigrants to the US, with almost 20% of them listing Nigeria, Ethiopia, or Ghana as their country of birth. Many others were refugees, or the children of refugees, who were granted asylum in the US in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, and the armed conflicts that defined the great lakes in subsequent years. And a growing number of them are settling in states critical to the presidential elections, including Florida, Texas, and Ohio.

Beyond their numbers, African immigrants are among the highest educated when compared to other growing immigrant populations and native-born US population, which is correlated with earnings potential and has an impact on their naturalization prospects. As capable taxpayers and consumers, they are important contributors to the US as a whole, and critical to smaller cities scattered across the country that needed revitalization in the wake of globalization and the changing nature of work.

Posted by orrinj at 8:37 AM


Revealed: assistant attorney general in Alaska posted racist and antisemitic tweets (Jason Wilson, 21 Jul 2021, The Guardian)

Many of the tweets under the JReubenCIark moniker suggest antipathy towards Jews, who are the subject of hundreds of tweets that suggest that they are involved in conspiracies against white people, or that they already control the commanding heights of the economy, the media or education.

In 2016, the account sent a tweet evoking a past time when "real history was taught in school, angry yentas didn't rule, white men didn't play the fool".

The tweet - which suggests the malign influence of Jewish women and the decline of white men as problems in the contemporary world - tagged in two then prominent alt-right accounts at a time when that movement was at the height of its influence on social media.

In February this year, JReubenCIark wrote in reference to the Republican Jewish Committee's push for the expulsion of Marjorie Taylor Greene that he supported their efforts "to combat the conspiracy theory that Jews run everything by getting any member of Congress they don't like expelled from Congress".

The account also regularly denied the reality of anti-Black racism, attacked Black public figures and showed an extraordinary hostility towards anti-racist protesters associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. He also made casually racist remarks about other groups including Mexicans and Native Americans.

In a March tweet, JReubenCIark claimed that accusations of racism were "purely a tool to control people on the right", going on to ask "try to think of example of an accusation of racism that helped the right, or Christians, or whites in the last 10 years".

On 15 June last year, he riffed on a catchphrase of the so-called Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, tweeting: "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its Consequences Have Been a Disaster for the Human Race."

The account also repeated familiar white nationalist talking points about the relationships between race, crime and IQ. He tweeted: "Is it 'white supremacy' to note that some racial groups have higher IQs than others based on IQ tests? I believe that and I am only a Deseret supremacist."

JReubenCIark also evinced a dismissive animus towards Latinos. On 25 June last year he wrote: "I can't believe there's a faithful Latter-day Saint out there who can look at the collapse of birthrates among the Latter-day Saints and say, 'Well, hey, at least lots of Catholic Mexicans are coming to the US.'"

On 30 June, as the protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder were in full swing, the account told a Utah BLM supporter he was arguing with on Twitter: "You and all of your lying violent criminal friends belong in prison." He later added: "#BlackLivesMatter is a criminal enterprise that murders people and destroys property. In a sane world you would all be in prison or worse."

On 2 July, discussing an incident in Provo, Utah, in which a man appeared to drive his car into a crowd of BLM protesters, he remarked: "No one had a right to block his car. You all belong in jail."

Hating black lives matter is a package deal. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 AM

IT'S A 60-40 NATION:

Are Americans More Trusting Than They Seem?: Political scientists say that our confidence in our institutions--and in one another--is running perilously low. Economists see a different story. (Idrees Kahloon, July 19, 2021, The New Yorker)

If trust appears to be languishing in the political realm, though, it appears to be thriving in another important institution of modern society--capitalism. The modern sharing economy is premised on leaps of faith in perfect strangers: we rely on crowdsourced restaurant reviews on Yelp, climb into a stranger's car through Uber, stay at someone else's house via Airbnb, and look for love on Bumble, Hinge, and sundry other dating apps. A financial-trust index set up by the economists Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales during the Great Recession has shown consistent growth in the past decade. The supply of money has more than doubled since the recession, and yet we've seen few paroxysms of goldbuggery or other disorders of mistrust. Interest rates, which rise when investors lose trust in repayment, remain close to zero. What's really going on?

People don't see the phenomenal trust embedded in the modern economy for the same reason that David Foster Wallace's fishes could not fathom water: everything is predicated on its existence. Adam Smith concluded that trust was a fundamental feature of humanity. ("Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog," he wrote in "The Wealth of Nations.") Kenneth Arrow, just before winning a Nobel Prize, extolled trust as a "lubricant" of a social system, an "extremely efficient" mechanism for easing transactions and promoting prosperity. "Unfortunately this is not a commodity which can be bought very easily," he warned. "If you have to buy it, you already have some doubts about what you've bought." Even in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Joseph Stiglitz, the tireless critic of inequality (who has a Nobel Prize of his own), observed, "It is trust, more than money, that makes the world go round."

Ask yourself the simple question "What is money?" and you'll have to come to grips with the fact that, at least since the dollar came off the gold standard, in 1971, our currency has been nothing more than trust itself, its value sustained by the power of communal belief. The humble, crumpled dollar bill in your pocket evokes the concept: "In God we trust." Less grandly, the thing you're trusting is the full faith and credit of the United States government. Fractional-reserve banking, which allows a bank to lend far more in credit than it has in deposits, has driven capitalism for centuries. Many economic crises, when examined closely, turn out to be crises of confidence. This is obviously true of a bank run, when depositors lose faith in the fractional-reserve system, but it's also true of hyperinflationary spirals, when worries about a country's handling of monetary policy yank down the value of its currency. There is a reason that the core language of commerce--of bonds and credits--is all about belief.

We had to travel last week and every single person at every airport was wearing their mask.  The military unit we saw was not just multiethnic and mixed-gender but soldiers posed for pictures with their native flags--Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico-- gays and lesbians serve openly, and there are military-issue hijabs. America is not Left/Right.  It is American. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:32 AM


Promote Open Source to a Full Member of the Intelligence Community: The exploitation of publicly or commercially available information must be recognized alongside spies, signals intelligence, and other established branches of practice. (MARK QUANTOCK, DAVID DILLOW and MCDANIEL WICKER, JULY 21, 2021, Defense One)

The U.S. intelligence community should elevate open-source intelligence to a core "int," alongside signal intelligence, human intelligence, and geospatial intelligence, and its agencies should better "integrate OSINT into collection and analytic tradecraft." That's what the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently recommended, and based on our extensive experience in the intelligence community and DoD, including multiple combat tours to the Middle East and South Asia, we firmly concur.

The United States' intelligence agencies and military intelligence functions were established during a time when national assets were needed to address information gaps. Secrets uncovered through classified means were often the only way to understand the world and the intentions of other countries. Today, such intelligence still offers invaluable insight, but the exponential growth of publicly and commercially available information allows unprecedented amounts of actionable intelligence to be generated from these open sources, all while freeing up expensive and resource-conscribed Ints to fill more challenging intel gaps. 

Some visionaries within government have taken important steps in this direction. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was an early "tea leaf reader" and saw the value of integrating commercial imagery data into analyses. Similarly, the Defense Intelligence Agency was the first to establish an OSINT career field to grow and develop professionals with the unique skillsets required for this domain. But if we are to keep pace with the rapidly evolving and expanding world of open-source intelligence, the DoD and intelligence community must more fully embrace the CSIS recommendation to treat OSINT "as a cornerstone of U.S. intelligence, relevant across the IC enterprise and in all aspects of its current and future missions." 

Sophisticated intelligence professionals understand that operational and strategic intelligence depends on open sources--and increasingly, so does tactical intelligence.

Donald's ties to Russia are an excellent illustration of the problem with keeping some information classified, which tends to give it a false sense of greater value.  Nevermind that data like the Steele Dossier was useful for investigations and to the American public, but the fact that Russian interference followed Donald's promises to lift anti-Vlad sanctions was treated as less significant than secret details. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:12 AM


For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene (Lucas Kwan Peterson, April 1, 2019 , LA Times)

The bright lights of New York City beckon to the restless and the hungry. In the city that never sleeps, as they say, the marquees of Times Square nearly make one forget the concrete dystopia of what is seemingly an unlivable urban wasteland. Surrounded by rats, black trash bags and graffiti-tagged storefronts on Broadway Street, New York's primary thoroughfare, I wondered aloud if I would be able to find a decent meal in what was surely a culinary heart of darkness.

In Los Angeles, we're spoiled by the breadth and quality of our dining options. In addition to outstanding year-round produce, I can get great huaraches, refreshing mul naengmyeon and impeccable chả giò within 15 minutes of where I live. But what about New York, a largely culturally bereft island that sits curiously between the Hudson and East Rivers at the foot of the Catskill Mountains? Sure, we've all heard of hot dogs, a staple of every New Yorker's diet, famously gnawed on by rodent and human alike in that "toddling town."

But as it turns out, there's more. A lot more. A number of daring restaurants have opened in recent years, vastly improving the city's scrappy culinary scene and making it a legitimate dining destination. Others are emphasizing seasonal fruits and vegetables in what seems to be a clear nod to Los Angeles. A weekend spent in the "city so nice they named it twice" leads this writer to recommend, rightly or wrongly, that food enthusiasts consider paying a visit to New York (The Big Apple in local jargon), a city that just years ago was terrorized by "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz.

My first culinary encounter was with pizza, a mysterious kind of baked tlayuda, covered in macerated tomatoes and milk coagulation, and occasionally smothered with a type of thinly sliced lap cheong called pepperoni. The odd dish, sometimes referred to as a pie, washed ashore from Naples some years ago. While the taste takes some getting used to, pizza can be enchanting when done properly.