Sunday, April 14, 2019
I don't feel up to writing much about
Julian Assange, but following his arrest in London, I anticipate
that I'll find a bunch of links this week and should collect them
together. Assange is an Australian, a computer programmer who came
up with Wikileaks, a system to collect and publish anonymously
submitted documents. That's always seemed like a noble endeavor,
an aid in exposing how the rich and powerful conspire in private
to manipulate and profit, and for a while he seemed to be doing
just that. He quickly ran afoul of those powers, most notably the
US government, which set out to charge him with various crimes,
and quite possibly orchestrated a broader smear campaign against
him. Assange, in turn, sought asylum from criminal charges, and
since 2012 has been sheltered by the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
I don't know how much Assange has had to do with Wikileaks since
2012 (or how much freedom he has had to do anything), but his
brand name wound up playing a role in Trump's 2016 campaign when
it framed the release of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.
One effect of the DNC dump was to expand the Democratic side of
bipartisan outrage against Assange, especially as Clinton's drones
tried to paint him as a Putin accomplice.
I don't have strong opinions about Assange one way or the other,
but I did welcome his release of leaked documents on the Iraq War
and the US State Department. (See my September 2, 2010 entry,
on the "Collateral Murder" video, anti-war vet Ethan McCord, and
a related speech by Barak Obama -- what I said then is still pretty
relevant today.) Releasing the DNC emails didn't particularly bother
me either, although the timing was suspicious (immediately after the
Trump's Access Hollywood tape, allowing the media to spin
scandal on top of scandal), as was the lack of any RNC/Trump campaign
emails to balance the picture.
Anyhow, the Assange links:
Let's also break out multiple links on Israel's elections:
Scattered links on other topics this week:
Julian Castro really wants to talk about immigration, but it's most
impressive talking about his work.
Trump's sister quietly retired in February, and it's actually a big deal:
Something here I didn't know: that Trump has a sister,
Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a US Court of Appeals judge (appointed,
by the way, by Bill Clinton in 1999, although Ronald Reagan appointed
her to US District Court in 1983). She retired to escape an investigation
into the possibly fraudulent scheme whereby Fred Trump transferred
property to his children to evade taxes.
Elizabeth Warren's new plan to make sure Amazon (and other big companies)
pays corporate tax, explained: "No more claiming big profits to
investors while paying nothing to the IRS."
Progressives should worry more about the odds that Joe Biden will win:
"Liberals are assuming the former vice president will fade on his own, a
trap Republicans fell for with Trump." They may both be front-runners,
but not many similarities beyond that. Trump campaigned as an outsider,
whereas Biden is the most complete insider even considering a run. The
most comparable 2016 Republican is Jeb Bush, although I'd give Biden
better odds than I gave Bush -- he may not have much of a program or
a real following, but at least he's not a laughingstock.
Immigration makes America great. This is a good general "explainer"
on most of issues related to immigration. I'm more of a moderate (or
maybe skeptic?) when it comes to promoting immigration: I'm concerned
about the downward pressure on labor markets immigrants pose; I worry
that immigration feeds our right-wing tendencies to ignore the needs
of impoverished natives; I've noted that many immigrants lean to the
political right (in many cases becoming jingoistic -- the Cubans are
an obvious case, since US immigration law favors anti-communists).
I've noted, for instance, that no less than five (of 16) Republican
presidential candidates in 2016 has at least one foreign-born parent
(including Trump, who also has a foreign-born wife). Still, I don't
doubt the general economic advantages of immigration at present (or
slightly elevated) levels. And the problems I've noted would go away
if we had a better political atmosphere.
Trump's flailing shake-up of the Department of Homeland Security,
explained: Key subhed here: "Trump's been in tantrum mode for
But Trump is an all-stick, no-carrot kind of guy. His idea of doing a
deal with Democrats was to cancel DACA protection for young undocumented
immigrants and then offer to reinstate it in exchange for sweeping
concessions. And he wants to get Mexico to do favors for him by
threatening to hurt both countries' economies unless they do what he
wants. This incredibly punitive, wildly ineffective approach to
dealmaking has been a hallmark of Trump's approach to the presidency
from Day 1, and it appears to be derived from his success as a business
executive at using his greater wealth to stiff contractors and
But in the presidency, this kind of bullying doesn't work at all,
as you can see from his lack of success in getting border wall money
appropriated. A reasonable response to policy failure would be to try
to go in a new direction, but Trump seems entirely uninterested in
that. So rather than rethink his approach, he's now inclined to burn
through administration personnel, even though shuffling the names on
an org chart around isn't going to alter any of the fundamentals of
Howard Schultz only has one idea about politics, and it's bad:
"Making him president won't fix the problems of partisanship."
Trump's possibly illegal designation of a new acting homeland security
Republicans are taking Ilhan Omar's comments on 9/11 out of context to
smear her. Well, when did they ever let context complicate a good
Betsy DeVos quietly making it easier for dying for-profit schools to rip
off a few more students on the way out.
Why conspiracy theories are getting more absurd and harder to refute:
Interview with Nancy L Rosenblum, co-author (with Russell Muirhead) of
A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on
A brief guide to David Bernhardt, Ryan Zinke's replacement at the
Interior Department: "Three things to know about the former oil
lobbyist who's just been confirmed as the new Secretary of the
4 key things to know about India's elections Thursday.
The new Brexit deadline is October 31.
The post-purge agenda: what the White House wants next on immigration:
"Donald Trump and Stephen Miller are pushing for a multi-pronged asylum
Why the Senate is blocking a new net neutrality bill, a year after trying
to save it. The House passed a bill. McConnell refuses to allow the
Senate to consider it. Trump says if passed he will veto it.
A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get abortions:
"The bill is unlikely to pass, but it's part of a larger trend."
Trump's Iran terrorist designation is designed to lock in endless enmity.
Daniel DePetris/Richard Sokolsky:
Bolton and Pompeo are steering Trump toward war with Iran;
On the eve of Israel's elections, Netanyahu thanks Trump for sanctioning
Iran at his request.
Josie Duffy Rice:
Jussie Smollett and the impulse to punish. Chicago's outgoing
mayor Rahm Emmanuel, cementing his reputation as a grandstanding
dickhead, ordered the city to sue Jussie Smollett for the costs of
investigating him before dropping charges, some $130,000.
Given the failures of law enforcement in Chicago, [F.O.P. president
Kevin] Graham is not in a strong position to castigate [Cook County
states attorney] Foxx. In the first half of 2018, Chicago police made
an arrest or identified a suspect in just fifteen per cent of murder
cases. Similarly, Emanuel's concern about the costs of the Smollett
investigation is misguided at best; in 2018 alone, the city paid a
total of a hundred and thirteen million dollars in police-misconduct
settlements and related legal fees. . . .
As Matthew Saniie, the chief data officer for Foxx's office, recently
wrote, in Cook County, cases in which the defendant, like Smollett,
pleads not guilty to a fourth-degree felony end in a deferred prosecution
seventy-five per cent of the time. Foxx runs the second-largest prosecutor's
office in the country, responsible for prosecuting crimes in Chicago and
a hundred and thirty-four municipalities. Her staff sees almost half a
million cases every year. Prosecutorial discretion is one of the pillars
of our justice system, and it is her job to discern what deserves her
staff's attention, as opposed to what has grabbed the most public attention.
Trump promised his sons would keep business out of politics. He's admitting
that was a lie. This links to: Elaina Plott:
Inside Ivanka's dreamworld: "The 'first daughter' spent years rigorously
cultivating her image. But she wasn't prepared for scrutiny."
Central American farmers head to the US, fleeing climate change.
Trump hotels exempted from ban on foreign payments under new stance.
Bernie Sanders imagines a progressive new approach to foreign policy:
While the rest of the field plays catch up with his 2016 platform, he
breaks new ground. But his main break with the bipartisan orthodoxy is
thus far limited to sensibility. He's more likely to promote peace and
respect than the others because he values them, but he's yet to get
down to the specifics it will take to deal with Israel/Palestine, to
pick the one case other politicians most fear.