September 16, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Under the Leave and Remain tags, the evidence shows we all want similar things (Bobby Duffy, 9/16/19, Politics UK)

A 2018 review article found that these new Brexit identities now often supersede party identities that have been established for decades. For example, a majority of both Leavers and Remainers describe the other side as 'hypocritical', 'selfish' and 'closed-minded'. And this also translates to social interactions: just half of the population are now willing to talk politics with supporters of the other side of the Brexit vote, and only one in three would be happy with their child marrying someone from the other side.

But the extent to which we've become polarised on concrete issues is far less clear - and significantly under-researched, given the prevalence of the 'divided Britain' narrative. What is clear is that the electorate aren't split into simple, coherent opposing blocs: Leave and Remain identities represent coalitions of people with highly diverse views, just as party identities do.

Recent research has shown how Leave supporters are split roughly into thirds, between those who believe the UK should 'open itself up' to the rest of the world post-Brexit, those who think we should 'protect ourselves' from the rest of the world, and those in the middle. These are very distinct views of what Brexit is for and what it will achieve.

Similarly, on the Remain side, only half say they actively identify with Europe, with the other half more pragmatic and instrumental in their reasons for supporting Remain.

It's also the case that there are many aspects of attitudes and identity in the UK that are converging rather than polarising, such as views on gender equality, same-sex relationships and racial prejudice. There is also significant consensus on what government should be focusing on, with funding for health and social care and lifting families out of poverty key priorities for the public, regardless of party allegiances or Brexit preferences. And despite what we might think from the daily combative headlines, trust in other people is going up, not down. we have to substitute mere partisan affiliations.

September 15, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 5:23 PM


We used to caddy with a guy named Cool Breeze, no idea what his real name was.
Posted by orrinj at 5:18 PM


At rally, Haredi MK said to compare Lapid, Liberman to biblical enemy 'Amalek' (Times of Israel, 9/15/19)

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators attended a United Torah Judaism election rally in Jerusalem on Sunday, where the community's top religious and political leaders urged them to show up to vote in Tuesday's election and blasted their secular opponents. [...]

UTJ MK Moshe Gafni compared Blue and White Party No. 2 MK Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu Party leader Avigdor Liberman to the ancient biblical tribe of Amalek.

Lapid and Liberman, Gafni said, are waging a "cultural war" against the ultra-Orthodox community, Ynet reported.

Posted by orrinj at 12:39 PM


'People Actively Hate Us': Inside the Border Patrol's Morale Crisis (Manny Fernandez, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Caitlin Dickerson, Sept. 15, 2019, NY Times)

Two years ago, when President Trump entered the White House with a pledge to close the door on illegal immigration, all that changed. The nearly 20,000 agents of the Border Patrol became the leading edge of one of the most aggressive immigration crackdowns ever imposed in the United States.

No longer were they a quasi-military organization tasked primarily with intercepting drug runners and chasing smugglers. Their new focus was to block and detain hundreds of thousands of migrant families fleeing violence and extreme poverty -- herding people into tents and cages, seizing children and sending their parents to jail, trying to spot those too sick to survive in the densely packed processing facilities along the border.

Ten migrants have died since September in the custody of the Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection.

In recent months, the extreme overcrowding on the border has begun to ease, with migrants turned away and made to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed. Last week, the Supreme Court allowed the administration to close the door further, at least for now, by requiring migrants from countries outside Mexico to show they have already been denied refuge in another country before applying for asylum.

The Border Patrol, whose agents have gone from having one of the most obscure jobs in law enforcement to one of the most hated, is suffering a crisis in both mission and morale. Earlier this year, the disclosure of a private Facebook group where agents posted sexist and callous references to migrants and the politicians who support them reinforced the perception that agents often view the vulnerable people in their care with frustration and contempt.

Interviews with 25 current and former agents in Texas, California and Arizona -- some conducted on the condition of anonymity so the agents could speak more candidly -- paint a portrait of an agency in a political and operational quagmire. Overwhelmed through the spring and early summer by desperate migrants, many agents have grown defensive, insular and bitter.

The president of the agents' union said he had received death threats. An agent in South Texas said some colleagues he knew were looking for other federal law enforcement jobs. One agent in El Paso told a retired agent he was so disgusted by scandals in which the Border Patrol has been accused of neglecting or mistreating migrants that he wanted the motto emblazoned on its green-and-white vehicles -- "Honor First" -- scratched off.

"To have gone from where people didn't know much about us to where people actively hate us, it's difficult," said Chris Harris, who was an agent for 21 years and a Border Patrol union official until he retired in June 2018. "There's no doubt morale has been poor in the past, and it's abysmal now. I know a lot of guys just want to leave."

At least there are defenseless victims they can take it out on...

Posted by orrinj at 8:17 AM


Idle mines portend dark days for top US coal region (MEAD GRUVER, 9/15/19, AP) 

At two of the world's biggest coal mines, the finances got so bad that their owner couldn't even get toilet paper on credit.

Warehouse technician Melissa Worden divvied up what remained of the last case, giving four rolls to each mine and two to the mine supply facility where she worked.

Days later, things got worse.

Mine owner Blackjewel LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 1. Worden at first figured the accounts would get settled quickly and vendors of everything from copy paper to parts for house-sized dump trucks would soon be back to doing normal business with the mines.

"The consensus was: In 30 days, we'll look back on this, and we made it through, and we'll be up and running, and it's a fresh start," she said.

What happened instead has shaken the top coal-producing region in the United States like a charge of mining explosive. Blackjewel furloughed most of its Wyoming employees and shut down Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, the first idled by hardship since coal mining in the Powder River Basin exploded in the 1970s.

The turmoil comes as U.S. coal production is down over 30% since peaking in 2008. Utilities are retiring aging coal-fired power plants and switching to solar, wind and cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas to generate electricity despite President Donald Trump's efforts to prop up the coal industry.

A decade ago, about half of U.S. electricity came from coal-fired power. Now it's below 30%, a shift that heavy equipment operator Rory Wallet saw as utilities became less willing to lock in multiyear contracts for Belle Ayr mine's coal.

"The market's changed," Wallet said. "The bankruptcies all tie into that."

And you need that toilet paper to clean up after Trumponomics.

Posted by orrinj at 8:10 AM


Sox could learn something from John Henry's other team (BILL KOCH, 9/14/19, The Providence (R.I.) Journal)

Boston's roster construction in 2019 paid little attention to that basic principle. Three contracts in particular -- David Price, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi -- are untradeable, and all were negotiated by Dombrowski. No opposing executive would consummate any deal with those three players involved unless there was a significant asset attached. Price, Sale and Eovaldi are on the Red Sox books for $73.6 million in each of the next three seasons.

That lack of flexibility comes prior to what could be an offseason of considerable transition. The next hire for Dombrowski's old position faces serious questions that will shape the Red Sox roster for years to come. Resolving the immediate futures of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello and Brock Holt is bound to cause some headaches.

Boston has what feels like unlimited financial resources, but spending through the final threshold of the competitive balance tax every season isn't the answer. The Red Sox can pay the fines to Major League Baseball, but losing draft position is something the organization can't afford. Boston's farm system is improving but remains ranked in the bottom third among 30 franchises.

What must make this particularly vexing for Henry is how perfectly his Liverpool machine is humming along at the moment. In June, their roster management culminated in a sixth UEFA Champions League title, the world's premier competition in club soccer. Liverpool's players on average are younger, cheaper and were more prudently acquired than the current Red Sox group by light years.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the lone product of the club's academy system who is a regular contributor, a brilliant 20-year-old fullback who is now an England national team regular. The other 10 starters against Tottenham in the final were acquired at an average age of 24 years old -- each of them still had considerable room to grow and improve. The three players Liverpool brought off the bench included two purchased as teenagers and a third, James Milner, who was a 29-year-old free transfer from Manchester City.

Liverpool's two most expensive players, defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker, were acquired to address specific areas of need. The Reds spent a combined $175 million to shore up their leaky back line, adding the final missing pieces to a club that was ready to contend for titles. The Red Sox signing J.D. Martinez the year after finishing last in the American League in home runs is an appropriate comparison.

The difference here is how the available funds were generated. The Red Sox took another significant chunk out of their CBT allotment -- Martinez's salary last season counted for about 9% of the $237 million available, which Boston plowed through to win a championship. Liverpool reinvested the $130 million they took in by selling disgruntled midfielder Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.

The Reds had purchased Coutinho from Inter Milan for just $10.5 million as a 20-year-old and cashed in for two reasons -- his value had reached its maximum, and more help was needed elsewhere on the roster.

PEDs made baseball management forget that no pitcher should ever get a contract longer than three years.

September 14, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM


The Commanding Heights Are No Laughing Matter (Jonah Goldberg, Sep 13, 2019, G-File)

About 20 years ago, I wrote a piece for NR arguing that The Simpsons--already TV's longest running sitcom!--constituted a victory for the right in the culture. It wasn't that the show was conservative, but that it aimed at all of the "false pieties" of the culture:
What should dismay liberals about this is that so many of today's pieties are constructs of the Left. Conservatives are accustomed to being mocked constantly in the popular culture. But the experience must come as something of a shock for hothouse liberals. For example, Homer Simpson's mother is a '60s radical still on the lam. How did she dodge the feds? "I had help from my friends in the underground. Jerry Rubin gave me a job marketing his line of health shakes. I proofread Bobby Seale's cookbook. And I ran credit checks at Tom Hayden's Porsche dealership." Some important pretensions are being punctured here--but not the usual ones.
Around the same time, Andrew Sullivan and Brian Anderson were making the case that South Park represented the same dynamic. Sullivan called it "the best antidote to PC culture we have." Anderson noted that "Lots of cable comedy, while not traditionally conservative, is fiercely anti-liberal, which as a practical matter often amounts nearly to the same thing." He quotes Matt Stone, South Park's co-creator: "I hate conservatives, but I really f**king hate liberals."
What fascinates me is the way that, in the years since, the enforcers of political correctness, perhaps not entirely consciously, recognized the threat of anti-PC humor and cracked down on it. This is exactly what Joseph Schumpeter, borrowing from Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals, would have predicted. What Schumpeter called the New Class of intellectuals (and what Nietzsche called the priestly class) undermine virtues that don't benefit them by turning them into vices. For Nietzsche, Christianity overturned the old virtues of pride, bravery, and strength and turned them into vices, elevating humility and meekness. For Schumpeter, the new intellectual classes turned industry and entrepreneurialism into rapaciousness and greed.
Even if you don't buy all that, it is remarkable how angry the wokesters are at Dave Chapelle and co. I think it stems from the fact that, even though they prudishly want to police comedy, they don't want to give up on the vital myth that to be left-wing is to be rebellious. The problem is they can't have it both ways. They can't control the commanding the heights of the culture and also claim to be the cultural subversives and rebels.

Because all comedy is conservative the Left can no longer even attempt.

Posted by orrinj at 6:42 PM


The Communist Plot to Assassinate George Orwell (Duncan White, September 10, 2019, lIT hUB)

When George Orwell returned to Barcelona for the third time, on June 20th, 1937, he discovered that the Spanish secret police were after him. He had been forced to return to the front in order to have his discharge papers countersigned and, in his absence, the Communists had initiated a purge of their perceived enemies. Orwell was on the list. As he arrived in the lobby of the Hotel Continental, Eileen approached him calmly, placed her arm around his neck, and smiled for the benefit of anyone watching. Once they were close enough she hissed in his ear:

"Get out!"


"Get out at once."


"Don't keep standing here! You must get outside quickly!"

Eileen guided a bewildered Orwell toward the hotel exit. Marceau Pivert, a French friend of Orwell's who was just entering the lobby, seemed distressed to see him and told him he needed to hide before the hotel called the police. A sympathetic member of the staff joined in, urging Orwell to leave in his broken English. Eileen managed to get him to a café on a discreet side street, where she explained the seriousness of the situation.


David Crook, a young Englishman working for the Independent Labour Party's (ILP) Barcelona office, had become friends with both Orwell and his wife over the last few months. He was not what he seemed. He had arrived in Spain in January 1937, the month after Orwell, eager to join up with the International Brigades and fight the Fascists. He was descended from Russian-Jewish immigrants and grew up in Hampstead, attending the prestigious Cheltenham College.

Like many young men who grew up after the First World War, he was attracted to left-wing causes. He moved to New York City, where he attended Columbia University and embraced radical politics, joining the Young Communist League. As a student delegate he traveled down to Kentucky to support the famous miners' strike in Harlan County, witnessing its brutal suppression by the National Guard. On his return to London he became a member of the British Communist Party. At one meeting, the doomed poet John Cornford spoke about the Republican cause in Spain, and Crook was inspired to enlist.

Like Hyndman, Crook was thrust straight into the action at the Battle of Jarama, taking three bullets to the leg. Recovering in Madrid, he socialized with the literary set, including the brilliant war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, her lover Ernest Hemingway, Mulk Raj Anand, and Spender. At this point he came to the attention of Soviet intelligence agents. After recruiting him, the NKVD sent him to a training camp in Albacete, where he was given a crash course in sabotage and surveillance techniques.

There he became a Communist spy. Crook's mission was to infiltrate the ILP and report on all their activities. The Soviets already had one agent in place, David Wickes, who volunteered as an interpreter with the ILP and passed what information he found on to his handlers. Now Crook was to infiltrate deeper and get hold of documents. Orwell was his most prestigious target.

Posted by orrinj at 6:32 PM


On the 10th anniversary of Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone (Kevin Murphy, 9/09/19, Melville House)

One of the twentieth century's greatest writers, Hans Fallada, died of heart failure in 1947. Fallada struggled with substance abuse, and after suffering a heart attack during the early winter of that year, was confined to a sanatorium where he spent his days with family and waiting for the publication of Every Man Dies Alone, his masterwork about a German couple who defy the sanctions and intimidation of the Nazis by circulating postcards of dissent in various areas of Berlin during World War II.

Every Man is as much a story about love as resistance; a testament to a middle age married couple's determination and character and the courage to pursue integrity and freedom despite facing risks of unfathomable terror. Fallada wrote the novel in what he described as a twenty-four day period of "white heat." Sadly, he would not live to see its publication--he died weeks before the book's release.

Melville House is proud to say we've published Fallada's most important books, including Little Man, What Now?, Wolf Among Wolves, The Drinker; and Every Man Dies Alone.

A great novel.

Posted by orrinj at 5:39 PM


Iranian FM mocks US following disputed report of Israeli spying in Washington (Times of Israel, 9/14/19)

"With a BFF in the #B_Team -- who empties US coffers and takes US foreign policy hostage -- SPYING on the US PRESIDENT, America doesn't need enemies," Zarif wrote, alongside screenshots of the report.

Zarif on Twitter often refers to the "#B_Team," which includes former US national security adviser John Bolton, who left the post Tuesday, Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, all hawks on Iran.

Posted by orrinj at 5:36 PM


Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not. (Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, Sept. 14, 2019, NY Times)

Deborah Ramirez had the grades to go to Yale in 1983. But she wasn't prepared for what she'd find there.

A top student in southwestern Connecticut, she studied hard but socialized little. She was raised Catholic and had a sheltered upbringing. In the summers, she worked at Carvel dishing ice cream, commuting in the $500 car she'd bought with babysitting earnings.

At Yale, she encountered students from more worldly backgrounds. Many were affluent and had attended elite private high schools. They also had experience with drinking and sexual behavior that Ms. Ramirez -- who had not intended to be intimate with a man until her wedding night -- lacked.

During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.

To Ms. Ramirez it wasn't funny at all. It was the nadir of her first year, when she often felt insufficiently rich, experienced or savvy to mingle with her more privileged classmates.

"I had gone through high school, I'm the good girl, and now, in one evening, it was all ripped away," she said in an interview earlier this year at her Boulder, Colo., home. By preying upon her in this way, she added, Mr. Kavanaugh and his friends "make it clear I'm not smart."

Mr. Kavanaugh, now a justice on the Supreme Court, has adamantly denied her claims. Those claims became a flash point...

Posted by orrinj at 4:57 PM


Pompeo blames Iran for Saudi attacks, 'pretend' diplomacy (Reuters, 9/14/19)

"Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy," Pompeo said in a Twitter post, referring to Iran's president and foreign minister.

Democrats vs Wahhabists.

Posted by orrinj at 1:26 PM


In challenge to Erdogan, ex-Turkey premier promises new political party (AFP, 13 September 2019)

 Former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday said he would launch a "new political movement" in the latest challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from his former allies.

Davutoglu was the prime minister and chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) between 2014 and 2016 until relations soured with Erdogan and he was forced out.

Posted by orrinj at 11:44 AM


Posted by orrinj at 11:35 AM


Why Sikhs wear a turban and what it means to practice the faith in the United States (Simran Jeet Singh, 9/13/19, The Conversation)

The founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, which is currently split between Pakistan and the northwestern area of India. A majority of the global Sikh population still resides in Punjab on the Indian side of the border.

From a young age, Guru Nanak was disillusioned by the social inequities and religious hypocrisies he observed around him. He believed that a single divine force created the entire world and resided within it. In his belief, God was not separate from the world and watching from a distance, but fully present in every aspect of creation.

He therefore asserted that all people are equally divine and deserve to be treated as such.

To promote this vision of divine oneness and social equality, Guru Nanak created institutions and religious practices. He established community centers and places of worship, wrote his own scriptural compositions and institutionalized a system of leadership (gurus) that would carry forward his vision.

The Sikh view thus rejects all social distinctions that produce inequities, including gender, race, religion and caste, the predominant structure for social hierarchy in South Asia.

In the Sikh tradition, a truly religious person is one who cultivates the spiritual self while also serving the communities around them - or a saint-soldier. The saint-soldier ideal applies to women and men alike.

In this spirit, Sikh women and men maintain five articles of faith, popularly known as the five Ks. These are: kes (long, uncut hair), kara (steel bracelet), kanga (wooden comb), kirpan (small sword) and kachera (soldier-shorts).

Although little historical evidence exists to explain why these particular articles were chosen, the five Ks continue provide the community with a collective identity, binding together individuals on the basis of a shared belief and practice. 

Posted by orrinj at 10:39 AM


When even the whackjobs have given up any hope there was anything illegal... "violated protocol," sublime.
Posted by orrinj at 10:32 AM


Saudi Arabia's oil supply disrupted after drone attacks: sources (Reuters, 9/14/19)

Saudi Arabia's oil production and exports have been disrupted, said three sources familiar with the matter, after drone attacks on two Aramco plants on Saturday, including the world's biggest oil processing facility.

Posted by orrinj at 10:30 AM


Episode 134: Like a Lyman Stone (Jonah Goldberg, September 12th, 2019, remnant Podcast)

AEI adjunct fellow Lyman Stone returns to the Remnant, and to America, to discuss family formation, fertility, climate change, and more.

Posted by orrinj at 10:21 AM


UAW presidents Gary Jones, Dennis Williams implicated in federal probe (Robert Snell, Daniel Howes and Ian Thibodeau, 9/12/19, The Detroit News0

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones is an unnamed union official accused in a federal criminal case Thursday of helping orchestrate a years-long conspiracy that involved embezzling member dues and spending the money on personal luxuries, three sources told The Detroit News.

In the criminal case, federal authorities identified four current and former senior officials as complicit in the embezzlement scheme. The government did not use their names but used labels to identify the union leaders, including "UAW Official A" and "UAW Official B," and detailed numerous instances of misspending on golf, golf equipment, cigars, months-long rentals at private villas and falsified expense reports.

Multiple sources told The News that "UAW Official A" is Jones and "UAW Official B" is former President Dennis Williams. The sources spoke only on the condition that they were not publicly identified because they are not authorized to speak about the investigation.

In outlining its case, federal officials provided the most detailed accounting to date of how Jones' former aide, UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson, and the unnamed union officials defrauded the union by using fraudulent expense reports for items during prolonged stays in luxury Palm Springs villas. Those visits lasted days, weeks and even months beyond the union's official business purpose for being in the desert oasis.

Pearson made an initial appearance in a Missouri federal court Thursday to face charges that include embezzling union funds, mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

The criminal case outlined a pattern of corruption stretching from California to Detroit and illegal spending by union leaders who spent more than $1 million of member dues on Palm Springs villas, steakhouse dinners, 107 rounds of golf, golf gear, cigars and $400 bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne.

Posted by orrinj at 9:32 AM


Will robots free people from slavery? (KEVIN DICKINSON, 14 September, 2019, Big Think)

There are fewer slaves in the world today, per capita, than at any other point in history. Chattel slavery, the kind that lead to the Atlantic slave trade, was once a human universal. Today, it is abolished and morally condemned. Other forms of slavery, such as child labor and forced marriage, are in decline. And the United Nations has set a target to end modern slavery by 2025.

We are closer to ending this morally bankrupt practice than at any point in our history. Will the final push come in the form of robotic automation?

A map showing the estimated prevalence of modern slavery (per 1,000 people) according to the Global Slavery Index's 2018 findings. The 10 countries with the highest prevalence are noted.

The idea is simple enough. Slavery is an economic crime. Its perpetrators lure desperate and disenfranchised peoples with the promise of a livelihood. They then force their victims to do repetitive, physically demanding, and often dangerous work while cutting them off from any physical, social, and lawful means of escape.

By design, machines perform repetitive tasks without concerns for the dangers or physical demands. In richer countries, they are already employed in industries associated with chattel slavery abroad, such as mining, farming, and textiles. As the thinking goes: if automation were to become widespread and cost effective enough, it would eradicate the need for cheap human labor and render slavery economically inefficient.

Posted by orrinj at 8:25 AM


William Peter Blatty's Counter-Countercultural Parable (Kevin Mims, 9/14/19, Quillette)

[T]he Exorcist is a deeply religious novel in which Catholic priests play the most heroic roles, martyring themselves to save the life of a little girl who isn't even Catholic. (In 2011, the publisher brought out a 40th anniversary edition that had been lightly revised by Blatty to, among other things, make it more Catholic-friendly; if you plan to read The Exorcist, I recommend finding the original.) And, although the book is a cautionary tale about the harm that divorce can do to children, it is not a call for an end to all divorce, nor is it an argument against women in the workplace.

Although the demon inside of Regan accuses Chris of bringing about the divorce by putting her career ahead of her marriage, Blatty indicates that this isn't the case. He portrays Chris as a loving mother and wife, who still hopes to reconcile with her husband. The divorce is clearly the result of Howard's fragile ego and his inability to handle his wife's success. Just before they begin the exorcism, Father Merrin reminds Father Karras not to speak with the demon, warning him, "Especially, do not listen to anything he says. The demon is a liar."

Nevertheless, it is Merrin who makes the clearest plea for Americans to reconsider the idea of ending their troubled marriages. When asked by Damien Karras what the reason for demonic possession is, Father Merrin replies:

"I think the demon's target is not the possessed; it is us...the observers...every person in this house. And I think the point is to make us despair; to reject our own see ourselves as ultimately bestial...without dignity; ugly; unworthy. And there lies the heart of it perhaps...For I think belief in God is not a matter of reason at all; I think it is finally a matter of love; of accepting the possibility that God could love us. He knows...the demon knows where to strike...Long ago I despaired of ever loving my neighbor. Certain people...repelled me. How could I love them? I thought. It tormented me...How many husbands and wives must believe they have fallen out of love because their hearts no longer race at the sight of their beloveds? Ah, dear God! There it lies, I think, Damien...possession; not in wars, as some tend to believe; not so much; and very seldom in extraordinary interventions...such as here...this girl...this poor child. No, I see it most often in the little things Damien: in the senseless petty spites; the misunderstandings; the cruel and cutting word that leaps unbidden to the tongue between friends. Between lovers. Enough of these."

The Exorcist was written at a troubled time for author and country--a counter-countercultural parable by a writer uneasy with the effects of rapid liberalization on the family unit. It is perhaps unsurprising that contemporary critics overlooked Blatty's culturally unfashionable social conservatism. But, as Mary Eberstadt's sobering new assessment of the sexual revolution's legacy reminds us, his cautionary tale has aged well.

There's a reason though that the book is called The Exorcist and not The Possessed.  It is about Father Karras and his crisis of faith.  It is only by accepting the reality of Evil that he is lead back to faith in the Good.

Posted by orrinj at 8:22 AM


Schiff accuses top intel official of illegally withholding 'urgent' whistleblower complaint (KYLE CHENEY, 09/13/2019, Politico)

The nation's top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday.

Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community's inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and of "urgent concern."

"A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the [inspector general] determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never," Schiff said in a statement. "This raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct."

Posted by orrinj at 7:26 AM


September 13, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 PM


Investigations Into Trump's Businesses Spark Emoluments Questions (Luke Johnson, September 11, 2019, Fortune)

Congressional investigations, including an impeachment inquiry, into President Donald Trump have expanded in a new--and unprecedented--direction. 

As part of deciding whether to recommend articles of impeachment, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee announced on September 6 that they were probing Trump's announcement that next year's G7 would be held at a Trump-owned resort in Doral, Fla., along with Vice President Mike Pence's taxpayer-funded stay at a Trump-owned golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland. The charges represent a new front in the impeachment investigation stemming from obstruction-of-justice allegations from the Mueller Report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Separately, following a Politico report, the House Oversight Committee revealed on September 6 it was investigating military stays at a Trump-owned property in Turnberry, Scotland, and substantial increases in military refueling at a nearby airport since Trump won the election.

Posted by orrinj at 7:41 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:07 PM


And Yet, Joe Persisted: Biden won, again, by demonstrating why Democratic voters have such goodwill for him. (JONATHAN V. LAST  SEPTEMBER 13, 2019, The Bulwark)

1. Joe Biden. This is the third debate he's won, and only the first one was close.

Biden has to show that he's sharp and vigorous. He's passed that test.

He has to hammer the most important difference between himself and his closest rivals: That they want to eliminate private insurance and they'll raise taxes to pay for their health care plans. Poll after poll shows that health care is one of the top three issues for Democratic voters. And Biden is the guy sitting on the spot that says "let people keep their private insurance." That's good ground.

Finally, he has to continue to show voters why people like him. And more than anyone else on stage, he nailed this. Three examples:

First, during the opening segment on Medicare for All, Biden focused most of his criticisms on Bernie Sanders (not the most likable guy on stage) rather than Elizabeth Warren (who is much more likable) even though they could have applied to either.

Second, when Julian Castro went after him for being a forgetful old man, he pushed back but didn't get ugly. He realized Castro was way out on a limb and he let him stay there.

Third, when gun control came up Biden turned to Beto O'Rourke. This is the exchange:

BIDEN: [B]y the way, the way Beto handled--excuse me for saying Beto. What the congressman . . .

O'ROURKE: That's all right. Beto's good.

BIDEN: The way he handled what happened in his hometown is meaningful, to look in the eyes of those people, to see those kids . . . to understand those parents, you understand the heartache.

What makes the praise of O'Rourke come off as genuine is the opening, where Biden calls him by his first name--obviously affectionately--and then catches himself and apologizes for not calling him "congressman."

The frontrunner is always the guy taking the most fire. Yet time and again, Biden was the most respectful person on the stage. Being respectful doesn't win you the nomination. But it's a mark of why Biden has such deep reservoirs of goodwill with Democratic voters.

There's a reason they like him.

Exit take: Toward the end, Biden was asked about his biggest professional setback. He started talking about losing his wife and daughter when protestors started screaming at him.

This struck me as synecdoche for pretty much the entire primary campaign so far: Young progressives so convinced of their own righteousness that they go after a guy like Biden at a moment like this, thinking that it helps their cause.

Posted by orrinj at 6:57 PM


'Where's my favorite dictator?' Trump reportedly asked a room full of Egyptian officials (The Week, 9/13/19)

Kim Jong Un must be jealous.

That's because it seems at last month's G7 conference, President Trump replaced him with a new "favorite dictator." While waiting for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Trump walked into a room of American and Egyptian officials and asked "Where's my favorite dictator?," several people who were in the room tell The Wall Street Journal.

Posted by orrinj at 5:27 PM


On the Mystery of the McCabe Grand Jury (Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes, September 13, 2019, LawFare)

McCabe's indictment had been expected on charges related to alleged lies to internal Justice Department investigators about his contacts with the media in 2016. On Thursday, Sept. 12, the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that the deputy attorney general had rejected McCabe's final appeal within the department to avoid prosecution. According to the Post, McCabe received a communication from the Justice Department informing him that "[t]he Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney's Office's decision in this matter .... Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney's Office." The Times writes that the decision was made by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and that Rosen's top aide, Ed O'Callaghan, reached out to McCabe's team on the matter.

There is a great deal of uncertainty around what happened next, almost certainly because Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure forbids the government, court officials or grand jurors from disclosing matters before the grand jury. This may make the McCabe story a particularly hard nut for reporters to crack. But here's what we know.

Normally, when the Justice Department informs a criminal target that it is moving ahead with charges, particularly when the target is a high-profile one, the indictment follows immediately. Yet in this case, no indictment materialized. And that wasn't because the grand jury didn't meet.

According to the Post, rather, the grand jury was reconvened on Thursday--but no public charges against McCabe were filed. Now, McCabe's lawyer, Michael Bromwich, has written to U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu, whose office is handling McCabe's case, stating that the defense team has heard "rumors from reporters ... that the grand jury considering charges against Mr. McCabe had declined to vote an indictment"--though the defense has "no independent knowledge of whether the reporting is accurate." Bromwich added that "based on our discussion with" government lawyers, "it is clear that no indictment has been returned." [...]

This would be a very big deal--a huge rebuke to the Justice Department's conduct of this case. Grand juries do not need to be unanimous. They need to have a quorum of their 23 members, and they require only a majority to return an indictment. They also don't proceed by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard at trial. Instead, an indictment issues on the lower standard of probable cause. In other words, if this is really what happened, it would mean that the Justice Department couldn't even persuade a majority of people who have heard from all of the witnesses that there is even probable cause to proceed against McCabe.

At the end of the day, it's just a prosecutor trying to curry favor and get the promotion she was denied because the GOP doesn't trust her.

Posted by orrinj at 12:40 PM


U.S. appeals court rules against Trump in foreign payments case (Andrew Chung, Jan Wolfe, 9/13/19, Reuters) 

A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit alleging President Donald Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by profiting from foreign and domestic officials who patronized his hotels and restaurants, adding to the corruption claims against Trump.

This is probably better folded into the Impeachment.

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