September 13, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 5:34 PM


The Conservative Right's Undying Fascination With an Obscene Anti-Immigration Novel (Shikha Dalmia, The UnPopulist)

Raspail, a staunch Catholic, had long been on an obsessive quest to defend the West's racial and cultural purity. And The Camp of the Saint's main objective is to jawbone the West into confronting how liberalism, progressive humanism and Christian meekness are destroying this sacred goal. He sets up a denouement so cartoonish that even Mad Max writers would cringe.

The central plot line of the book involves an armada of "kinky-haired, swarthy-skinned, long-despised" Indians who, exhorted by a "turd eating" god-man to get a piece of the "white man's comfort," board a fleet of rickety ships to France, the land of "milk and honey," to escape poverty and illness.

The sojourners are hungry and diseased. But that evidently does nothing to dull their satyr-like sexual appetite since these are people who, in Raspail's telling, "never found sex to be a sin." So their journey becomes one long orgiastic ride as they hump everything in sight. Here's Raspail in his own words. (And be advised, it's not for the faint of heart.) [...]

Unsurprisingly, this book is a perennial cult classic among white supremacists in America and Europe. Every time a refugee crisis, big or small, emerges, they start chattering in dark, apocalyptic tones about the prescience of the book--never mind that countries have been absorbing refugees of famine and war since time immemorial. The National Vanguard Magazine, founded by the notorious neo-Nazi William Pierce (whose novel The Turner Diaries called for a white-led violent revolution in America) routinely whips out characters and scenes from Raspail's magnum opus to explain current events. VDare, a restrictionist website that has long been peddling racist nonsense against immigrants, has a tag named after the book to archive posts. And then there is the race-baiting Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), whose quasi-white-nationalist founder John Tanton, a Michigan-based ophthalmologist, republished the book in America in 1994. He gushed in his introduction that the book would perform the vital function of evoking "different feelings" toward immigrants from those evoked by bathetic Ellis Island stories that "exalt the immigrant experience."

Posted by orrinj at 4:38 PM


Rensselaer County's Republican elections commissioner arrested by FBI (Brendan J. Lyons, Sep. 13, 2022, Times Union)

 Jason T. Schofield, the Republican Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioner, was arrested outside his residence Tuesday morning by the FBI and charged with fraudulently obtaining and processing absentee ballots last year using personal information of at least eight voters without their permission, according to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court.

The indictment handed up last week -- and unsealed Tuesday during his arraignment -- charges Schofield with 12 felony counts of unlawful possession and use of a means of identification. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:35 PM


An ex-Marine was about to bomb an Indiana mosque. And then they welcomed him inside: Joshua Seftel's 'Stranger at the Gate' tells the story of military vet Richard 'Mac' McKinney's change of heart -- and religion -- after getting to know Muslims off the battlefield (RENEE GHERT-ZAND, 9/13/22, Times of Israel)

He did, in fact, plan to construct an improvised explosive device (IED). He considered setting it off in front of the Islamic Center of Muncie on a Friday afternoon in 2009, just as worshipers were gathering outside the building.

"I was hoping for 200 dead or injured -- at least," McKinney says straight into the camera.

In the end, McKinney did not commit mass murder -- thanks to a plot twist that demonstrates the power of kindness to change people.

"Kindness can be so transformative. Just talking to someone, reserving judgment, and finding common ground can make a huge difference," director Seftel said in a recent interview with The Times of Israel.

The Brooklyn-based Seftel was referring to the way longtime members of the Islamic Center, including Afghan refugees Dr. Saber Bahrami and his wife Bibi Bahrami, and African-American Muncie native Jomo Williams warmly welcomed McKinney when he walked through the door.

Incensed that a woman wearing a burqa had picked up her son at his daughter's school, McKinney was sure the boy was a terrorist in training and that it was time to put his plot into action. Looking for proof to justify the terrorist act he was about to commit, he forced himself to enter the mosque.

"I was convinced these people were killers. By the end of the night I thought they'd have me in the basement with a sword to my throat," McKinney says.

Instead, he was treated as a valued guest, although the center's members sensed there was something odd about him.

Moved -- and much relieved -- McKinney began to feel comfortable among these Muslim Americans.

"These people were just plain old pleasant. They were happy to be alive, happy to be American, and happy to talk to me," McKinney says.

Posted by orrinj at 4:31 PM


Refugee "baggage" does not include inclination to crime (SORA HEO, SEPTEMBER 13, 2022, Niskanen Center)

In January 2017, President Trump signed Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States, an executive order dramatically reducing refugee resettlement. Referred to as the "travel ban" or "Muslim ban" by critics, the sudden policy change reversed decades of U.S. immigration policy. In part due to unfounded fears that refugees increase crime rates and pose a national security threat, the policy resulted in the lowest number of resettled refugees in a decade and a 65.6 percent decrease in resettlement from 2016 to 2017. 

The Trump Administration's rhetoric conflated immigration and crime and sparked a national shift away from supporting immigration. In a poll released this month, more than half of Americans claimed that there is an ongoing "invasion" at the Southern border, in tune with the national shift away from pro-immigration.

The presumption was that when a large number of refugees arrive in a region, crime rises in subsequent years, and placing limits on immigration would drastically decrease crime rates. In actuality, there was a null effect on crime rates in response to changes in refugee resettlement rates brought by the 2017 ban.

The association between crime and immigration is not new. In 2017, 45 percent of Americans agreed that immigrants exacerbate crime. Particularly within the GOP, the topic of immigration has served as key campaign fodder - 71 percent of Republicans believe that immigrants worsen crime rates, as opposed to 34 percent of Democrats. Given that refugees are painted in one light by the broader community - individuals escaping war, poverty, and persecution, Americans seem to expect they possess a relatively high inclination to commit violent crime.Despite a 65.6 percent drop in refugee resettlement, there was no visible effect on various types of crime, according to findings from a University of Cambridge study on the relationship between crime and refugee resettlement after the ban's implementation.

The study plots the relationship between 2015-2016 to 2017-2018 changes in refugee arrivals and present-day policy changes in crime rates along the blue regression line. If less refugee resettlement led to lower crime rates, we would witness a downward sloping regression line. Across both types of crimes (left versus right plots) and when measured in rates and logs (top versus bottom plots), there is no apparent correlation between the reduction in refugee arrivals due to the ban and subsequent changes in local crime rates. The findings suggest that crime rates would have been similar had refugee arrivals continued at pre-Executive Order levels.

Likewise, examining crime data from ten U.S. cities that received the most refugees relative to their population size between 2006-2015 reveal that rather than crime rising, nine out of ten cities became considerably safer.

Posted by orrinj at 4:14 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:08 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:04 PM


U.S. Sen. Rick Scott's epic fail at GOP campaign job: squandered millions, crap candidates (Diane Roberts, SEPTEMBER 12, 2022, Florida Phoenix)

The upshot is that Scott blew through $172.2 million bucks to net $8.8 million. The NRSC has cancelled TV buys in key midterm states while Democrats, with nearly twice as much cash in the bank, are ramping up their ads. No wonder Republican donors feel burned.

Mitch McConnell is not happy, letting it be known that he was "concerned" about Scott's disappearing cash debacle as well as what he delicately referred to as "candidate quality."

He means the passel of cretins, head cases, and oafs who got enough Trumpy votes in Republican primaries to advance to the general election in November.

Scott struck back with the imbecilic fury of a person who'd spent too many hours prostrate on that tacky carpet at Mar-a-Lago. In a Washington Examiner op-ed, he accused "smart guy" party leaders and "the DC crowd" of "trash-talking" Republican candidates. "It's treasonous to the conservative cause," huffed Scott.

Yep, Scott thinks the 2022 crop of Trumplet hopefuls are "great candidates," fine folks like Blake Masters, who's challenging Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Masters blames gun violence on "Black people, frankly," while putting out an ad showing him standing in the Arizona desert brandishing a short-barreled shotgun, which is, he snarls, is "designed to kill people."

Posted by orrinj at 3:49 PM


Justice Department subpoena storm broadens Trump's potential legal woes (Stephen Collinson, 9/13/22, CNN)

A strikingly broad subpoena sweep against more than 30 former officials and campaign aides of ex-President Donald Trump represents the clearest sign yet of the seriousness of the Department of Justice's criminal probe into events surrounding the US Capitol insurrection.

The gambit, revealed on Monday, also shows that while Trump may succeed in slowing a separate investigation into the retention of classified information at Mar-a-Lago, his potential exposure to legal consequences is deep and threatening. Trump has not been charged with a crime in either probe.

But the subpoenas show that the DOJ's investigation, which has proceeded behind the scenes for months and caused Trump critics to express frustration with Attorney General Merrick Garland, is far more expansive than was previously known. And it appears to be intensifying, with investigators apparently narrowing their focus based on other subpoenas, evidence and witness testimony.

"This is the way classic investigations are conducted, moving up the chain so to speak," David Laufman, former chief of the Justice Department's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, told CNN's Erin Burnett Monday.

"They are now encompassing individuals closer and closer to the President to learn more and more about what the President knew and when he knew it."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Inflation 'collapse' will launch powerful market rally, Credit Suisse predicts (Stephanie Landsman, 9/12/22, CNBC)

Credit Suisse expects the Federal Reserve to pause interest rate hikes sooner than widely expected due to tumbling inflation.

According to the firm's chief U.S. equity strategist, it will launch a powerful market breakout.

"This is actually what's being priced into the market broadly," Jonathan Golub told CNBC's "Fast Money" on Monday. "Every one of us sees when we go to the gas station that the price of gasoline is down, and oil is down. We see it even with food. So, it really is showing up in the data already. And, that's a really big potential positive."

...blinds them to simple economics.  Just like the Left.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Justice Department issues 40 subpoenas related to Trump in widening Jan. 6 inquiry (Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer, 9/12/22,  New York Times)

The Justice Department has issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week seeking information about the actions of former President Donald Trump and his associates related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, according to people familiar with the situation.

Two top Trump advisers, Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman, had their phones seized as evidence, those people said.

The department's actions represent a substantial escalation of a slow-simmer investigation two months before the midterm elections, coinciding with a separate inquiry into Trump's hoarding of sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Florida.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


In Atlanta, a local prosecutor takes on murder, street gangs, and a president (Richard Fausset, 9/12/22,  New York Times)

Fani T. Willis strode up to a podium in a red dress late last month in downtown Atlanta, flanked by an array of dark suits and stone-faced officers in uniform. Her voice rang out loud and clear, with a hint of swagger.

"If you thought Fulton was a good county to bring your crime to, to bring your violence to, you are wrong," she said, facing a bank of news cameras. "And you are going to suffer consequences."

Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, had called the news conference to talk about a street gang known as Drug Rich, whose members had just been indicted in a sprawling racketeering case. But she could have been talking about another crew that she is viewing as a possible criminal enterprise: former president Donald Trump and his allies who tried to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss in Georgia.

In recent weeks, Willis has called dozens of witnesses to testify before a special grand jury investigating efforts to undo Trump's defeat, including a number of prominent pro-Trump figures who traveled, against their will, from other states. It was long arm of the law stuff, and it emphasized how her investigation, although playing out more than 600 miles from Washington, D.C., is no sideshow. [...]

The phrase "I don't like a bully" is one Willis deploys often. After taking office in January, she had a quote from Malcolm X painted on the wall as a mission statement: "I'm for truth no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against."

How republican.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Ukraine's sudden gains prompt new questions for commanders (Thomas Gibbons-Neff, 9/12/22,  New York Times)

By expelling Russian troops from a large slice of strategic territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region, Ukrainian forces are now positioned to make a move on the Donbas, the industrialized eastern territory that President Vladimir Putin of Russia has made central to his war aims. Just before flooding troops across the border in February, Putin declared the Donbas independent from Ukraine, and he held up the region's sovereignty as a key justification for the invasion.

Russia now has control of nearly 90% of the Donbas, where its military shifted much of its focus after a staggering defeat around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in the spring. If Ukraine were to retake even a part of the region, it would be an embarrassing blow to the Kremlin.