November 4, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 7:01 PM


Jury finds Trump friend Tom Barrack not guilty of foreign lobbying and lying to FBI (Dareh Gregorian, 11/04/22, NBC News)

Barrack, a California billionaire, had denied doing the bidding of the UAE, and maintained that he had arranged meetings between Emirati and White House officials and made media comments praising the UAE government because he wanted to, not because he was being directed to.

Barrack said he was thankful to the jury. "I'm so moved by them and the system," he said. Asked what he planned to do after the victory, Barrack said he was going to visit the Statue of Liberty -- and "have a drink."

"God bless America," he said. "The system is amazing."

Posted by orrinj at 6:13 PM


What Is Integralism? (William Galston, 11/04/22, Persuasion)

Broadly speaking, there are two different kinds of contemporary American conservatism. The more familiar--traditional conservatism--holds that the founding principles and institutions of the American polity remain sound but have been distorted by waves of progressive activism that have eroded our commitment to individual liberty and limited government. The task is to preserve these fundamentals while restoring their original meaning and function. 

The second kind of conservatism claims that America was flawed from the start. The focus on individual rights comes at the expense of community and the common good, and the claim that government exists to preserve individual liberty creates an inexorable move toward moral anarchy. These tendencies have moved us so far from traditional decency and public order that there is little of worth left to "conserve." Our current situation represents a revolution against the forces--religion, strong families, local moral communities--that once limited the worst implications of our founding mistakes. The only remedy for this revolution is a counter-revolution. Instead of limited government, we need strong government capable of promoting the common good and defending moral common sense against the threat posed by unelected elites.

This proposed counter-revolution has little to do with conservatism as traditionally understood. It seeks not to limit the flaws in our founding principles but to replace them. Specifically, it is a revolt against liberalism, the political theory rooted in the Enlightenment that inspired the Declaration of Independence. This New Right is unabashedly anti-liberal, at the level of philosophical principle as well as political practice.

There are different kinds of anti-liberalism. Some are secular--for example, fascism, which rests its legitimacy on the culture and spirit of a specific "people" and uses all available means to pursue the interests of this people, as defined by an elite that purports to speak in its name. Other kinds of anti-liberalism appeal to a specific religion, the truth of which is taken for granted. Legitimate government rules in the name of this religion and promotes God's will on earth.

With these distinctions, we have reached integralism, which is a distinctive form of religious anti-liberalism within Catholicism. It arose many centuries before the emergence of liberalism, as a justification for the integration of Catholicism and political power that began under the Roman emperor Constantine and was completed in 380 by emperor Theodosius I, who embraced Christianity not only as his personal religion but also as the religion of his realm. At the end of the next century, Pope Gelasius I formalized the Catholic understanding in his famous distinction between priestly and royal authority. In matters concerning religious practice and ultimate salvation, Gelasius argued, political authorities are required to submit to the authority of the Church. 

Among other implications, this arrangement precludes religious liberty as now understood. Any political authority that permits individuals and groups to freely choose among religions ipso facto denies the authority of the Church in spiritual matters.

It begins with anti-Americanism. 

Posted by orrinj at 11:59 AM


Israel just had a bad week (Jeffrey Salkin, 11/04/22, RNS)

I cannot overstate the danger that Israel, the American Jewish community, and Judaism itself faces.

Itamar Ben-Gvir is a racist.

He believes in the discredited radical anti-Arab and xenophobic rhetoric of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded the Jewish Defense League in New York in the 1960s and then made aliyah.

He venerated Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 opened fire in the tomb of the patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 people and wounding 125 Palestinian Muslim worshipers.

He had threatened to assassinate former prime minister Yitzchak Rabin, and on this day in 1995, Yigal Amir did precisely that.

He supports passing a law that would make sex between a Jew and a gentile illegal.

Ben-Gvir was considered so dangerous, that he was forbidden to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. That is the most stunning condemnation that you will ever find of him and his ideas.

Posted by orrinj at 8:16 AM


The GOP's new, Russia-friendly campaign-trail buddy: Tulsi Gabbard (ANDREW DESIDERIO, 11/04/2022, Politico)

Republicans once slammed Tulsi Gabbard as a socialist seeking to appease dictators like Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. These days, much of the GOP is embracing her. [...]

"The only reason people know who Tulsi Gabbard is, particularly on the right, is because she has become a darling of the alt-right because of her statements on Russia," said Heath Mayo, a conservative activist who founded the advocacy group Principles First. "They're saying they like her pro-'America First' views, when she's primarily known by most of the American electorate for having met with Assad and partially blamed America for him gassing his citizens, and blamed America for Putin invading Ukraine."

"It's clear to everyone that what Tulsi Gabbard represents," Mayo added, "is isolationism and excuses for dictators."

Oh, no, she represents much weirder stuff than that.

Posted by orrinj at 8:04 AM


The Great Jewish-American Entanglement : a review of .The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel and the Fate of the Jewish People, by Walter Russell Mead (Jorge González-Gallarza, November 1, 2022, City Journal)

Mead calls these two interlocking fates a "great quantum entanglement," and a singular focus of his magisterial study is to show how little a role Jews themselves played in kindling this relationship. "The perception that America is a pro-Jewish power," he writes, "antedates significant Jewish immigration to the United States." This paradox, Mead notes, applies to the wider Zionist movement, whose success in declaring a Jewish state in 1948 ultimately hinged on the support of Gentile politicians, industrialists, and diplomats. "The secret weapon of the Zionists," he writes, "was their ability to gather up the critical gentile support," yet replicating that among Jews would, in Theodor Herzl's mind, "be Zionism's hardest test." Israel, he notes later, is "something that gentiles, antisemites included, and Jews made together." Zionists, Mead explains, were a minority of American Jewry until word of the Final Solution reached the U.S. around 1943.

America's special bond with Jews, in fact, does not just predate the Jewish-American diaspora; it predates America itself. Mead cites four reasons why, from the fifteenth century onward, the Anglosphere as a whole began turning away from the theologically tinged anti-Semitism that remained a hallmark of Europe's politics for centuries thereafter. First, the Protestant Reformation shed a new, friendlier light on Judaism by connecting the faithful to the Torah, unmediated by the Church. Second, a vision took hold that "linked the fate of the Jews with the fate of the English speakers," a point Mead could have expanded on by referring to eminent Hebraists in the common-law tradition, such as John Selden. Third, England and America gradually replaced "total society" with a more pluralistic model of inter-faith concord sooner than continental Europe, though England would remain a religious quasi-monolith for a while longer. And fourth, the advent of industrial capitalism helped destigmatize the largely commercial and financial trades to which Europe's medieval anti-Semitic laws had relegated Jews.

In addition to these four reasons, the growth on U.S. soil of religious denominations that put Jews firmly back in God's plan, from Puritanism to Evangelicalism, helped cement America's philo-Semitic bent. That is not to mention the philo-Hebraism of the Founding generation, which was "immersed in the images, the language, and the historical ideas of the Hebrew Bible"--the same Bible that a philo-Christian Jewish author like Yoram Hazony wants restored in public education. The very idea of America, in fact, is shot through with the kind of Mosaic nationalism that elevated the ancient Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt. Like them, "the American people had been entrusted with a providential message intended for the whole human race."

This long, profound relationship, ultimately rooted less in Judaism itself than in Christianity's new forms, is among the storylines Mead harnesses to dispel what he calls the "planet Vulcan" theory--namely, "the antisemitic legend that falsely attributes American support for Israel to the machinations of a secretive and all-powerful Jewish lobby."

Posted by orrinj at 7:56 AM


New renewables record as UK wind generation blows past 20GW (Sophie Vorrath, 4 November 2022, Renew Economy)

The UK has notched up a new wind energy generation record, with its offshore and onshore wind farms contributing more than 20 gigawatts to the national power supply at around midday on November 3.

According to a Tweet from the National Grid ESO, wind power generated 20,896MW in the 12:30 settlement period, contributing more than half (53%) of all of Great Britain's electricity.

"Overall, it was a VERY green day," the tweet continues, "70% of energy was zero carbon (Nuclear, Wind, Hydro, Solar & Storage).

Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM


Israel vote cements rise of extreme right (Rosie SCAMMELL, November 4, 2022, AFP)

This gives the extreme right unprecedented influence, securing Ben-Gvir's transformation from political pariah to powerbroker. [...]

Ben-Gvir lives in a settlement of religious hardliners in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, but has attempted to moderate his public appearance in the run-up to elections.

"When I said 20 years ago that I wanted to expel all the Arabs, I don't think that anymore. But I will not apologise," he told AFP ahead of the vote.

Before entering the political mainstream, Ben-Gvir hung a portrait in his living room of Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli who killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at a Hebron mosque in 1994.

The picture was taken down before he entered parliament last year, but Ben-Gvir still regularly shows up at flashpoint sites in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As a policymaker, his sights are set on annexing the West Bank and ensuring Israel's security services use more force in countering Palestinian unrest.

The United Nations says recent months have been the deadliest period in years in the West Bank, with near daily army raids and an increase in clashes and attacks on Israeli forces.

More US Jewish groups publicly fret over far-right showing in Israeli election (JUDAH ARI GROSS, 11/04/22, Times of Israel)

The Anti-Defamation League, which had raised concerns about the Religious Zionism party's past rhetoric in the lead-up to the election, doubled down on its criticism after the results came in.

"We believe that including these far-right individuals and parties in an Israeli government would run counter to Israel's founding principles, and impact its standing, even among its strongest supporters," the organization said.

The ADL added that it "will not shirk from calling out expressions by, and policies of, the Israeli government and Israeli leaders that are hateful, racist, anti-Arab, homophobic and anti-democratic."

The 130-year-old National Council of Jewish Women released a fierce response to the election results on Thursday night, calling out the party by name.

"We support the electoral process in Israel and respect the outcome of its elections. And we are deeply concerned by the statements and ideologies of the parties that appear to be forming the next coalition government -- particularly the anti-LGBTQ+, anti-women and anti-Arab rhetoric from the parties that make up the Religious Zionism Slate, including Ben Gvir's Otzma Yehudit party, the Noam party and the Religious Zionism party," the organization's CEO Sheila Katz said.

"NCJW will always stand up for justice, democracy and diplomacy, and we refuse to normalize racism, incitement or discrimination," she said.

Posted by orrinj at 7:41 AM


Why Flightline, the Breeders' Cup favorite, is the fastest horse you've never heard of (Dana O'Neil, Nov 4, 2022, The Athletic)

[F]lightline, who will load into the starting gate as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday, needs to be in the conversation for the fastest racehorse of all time. And yes, that's a list that includes Secretariat. [...]

[W]hat he is doing now is extraordinary. He is not merely undefeated, he is near untouchable. He has won his five races by a combined 62 ¾ lengths and all but one has been by 11 lengths or more. Whatever skeptics remained turned into converts in his most recent race, the Pacific Classic. Running in a race that included two turns for the first time and a race that stretched for more than a mile for the first time, Flightline won by 19 ¼ lengths, leaving the Dubai World Cup winner among others in his dust. "It's eerie when you think about it -- he's never had to even think about a competitor, because he's never had one,'' says Terry Finley, the CEO and president of West Point Thoroughbreds, which purchased Flightline at the 2019 Saratoga sale. "I love that idea. He's never even had to think about another horse.''

While studying at Harvard in the 1960s, a man by the name of Andy Beyer came up with a measurable for horses, and in 1992, the Daily Racing Form started publishing those figures. Only one horse has recorded a better Beyer speed figure than Flightline's 126 in the Pacific Classic, and none have matched his five-race string of excellence -- 105, 114, 118, 112, and 126. "It's like comparing Babe Ruth to Mickey Mantle; it's not easy to compare generations, but he is a great, great horse,'' Sadler says. "One of those rare horses that only comes along every 20 years." For those who at least want some recent comparisons, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah won the Breeders' Cup Classic by 6 1/2 lengths in 2015; his Beyer figure was 120. It was, by far, the best of his career.

Posted by orrinj at 7:37 AM


What is Beauty?: Chloe Cooper Jones examines physical disability and the politics of being seen in her memoir "Easy Beauty" (WYNTER K MILLER, 11/04/22, Electric Lit)
There's a scene in Easy Beauty, one of many in Chloé Cooper Jones' complex and exceedingly intelligent memoir, that speaks volumes. In it, the author is asked why she doesn't write about disability. She replies, "As soon as you identify as something, people start telling you who you are and what you mean. They put you in a little box and leave you there." [...]

Chloé Cooper Jones and I connected via Zoom to talk about beauty, transformation, and the art of being fully present--all timeless topics covered thoughtfully in Easy Beauty.

Wynter K Miller: One of the theses underlying Easy Beauty is the belief that proximity to beauty can be transformative for the individual. Assuming that society operates on the same belief--what do you think we're being transformed into, writ large?

Chloé Cooper Jones: I think that what's important about this idea that beauty is transformative is that there is a threshold, in a certain sense, in which beauty can be transformative, and in a way that I would associate with positive growth. There's this operating idea in the book that beauty can give us a chance. And this is not really my idea. It's Iris Murdoch's idea, that beauty can give us this chance to escape ourselves, to actually move outside of our ego or our own limited perspective, and that we can use beauty, or the aesthetic experience, or art in general, to step outside of your palace of self-regard, engage in the world, and then to return to yourself further enriched. I think there's a lot in society that does support that aim, and I think that aim is unbelievably worthwhile and is transformative in the very best sense because it literally lifts us outside of the limits of being just one single person.

Nailed the point of Identitarianism too--submersion. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 AM


How to Love People Who Love Conspiracies: Fighting over the facts is unlikely to convince anyone. (Arthur C. Brooks, NOVEMBER 3, 2022, The Atlantic)

Conspiracy beliefs can also bring tangible benefits for well-being. For example, they can provide a sense of control in a chaotic world. Research has shown that people who feel they have little control over their lives are more likely to hold superstitions (for example, that the number 13 is unlucky), see spurious correlations (in, say, the stock market), and believe in conspiracies. Similarly, people with a need to feel unique and special may gravitate toward unusual beliefs, such as conspiracies, held by a minority of people.

These beliefs can also provide a sense of community, as Kelly Weill wrote earlier this year in The Atlantic in an article about people who believe in a flat Earth. Even though conspiracy theories can drive a wedge between those who believe them and their friends and family who don't, at the same time, these unpopular views can create a sense of kinship among people who hold them--sort of like unpopular tastes or esoteric knowledge. For more than a century among some social scientists, this has been called the "sociology of secret societies."

Shorter version:  "Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden...We join
    a mass movement to escape from individual responsibility, or, in the words of an ardent young
    Nazi, 'to be free from freedom.' It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared
    themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed.  They considered themselves
    cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not
    joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility?"