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Archive for July 14th, 2017

Tucker Carlson Is Doing Something Extraordinary

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A very interesting article in the Atlantic by Peter Beinart:

Over the last two nights, something fascinating has broken out on the Tucker Carlson show: A genuine, and exceedingly bitter, debate between conservatives on foreign policy. On Tuesday, Carlson told retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters he thought the U.S. should team up with Russia to defeat ISIS. Peters responded that, “You sound like Charles Lindbergh in 1938.” Carlson called that comment “grotesque” and “insane.”

Then, on Wednesday night, Carlson told the Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow, and former Mitt Romney adviser, Max Boot, that he opposed overthrowing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and didn’t see Russia as a serious threat. Boot responded by accusing him of being a “cheerleader” for Moscow and Tehran. Carlson called that comment “grotesque” too. And declared, “This is why nobody takes you seriously.”

In his vicious and ad hominem way, Carlson is doing something extraordinary: He’s challenging the Republican Party’s hawkish orthodoxy in ways anti-war progressives have been begging cable hosts to do for years. For more than a decade, liberals have rightly grumbled that hawks can go on television espousing new wars without being held to account for the last ones. Not on Carlson’s show. When Peters called him an apologist for Vladimir Putin, Carlson replied, “I would hate to go back and read your columns assuring America that taking out Saddam Hussein will make the region calmer, more peaceful, and America safer.” When Boot did the same, Carlson responded that Boot had been so “consistently wrong in the most flagrant and flamboyant way for over a decade” in his support for wars in the Middle East that “maybe you should choose another profession, selling insurance, house painting, something you’re good at.”

On Iran, Carlson made an argument that was considered too dovish for even mainstream Democrats to raise during the debate over the nuclear deal: He questioned whether Tehran actually endangers the United States. He told Peters that “[w]e actually don’t face any domestic threat from Iran.” And he asked Boot to “tell me how many Americans in the United States have been murdered by terrorists backed by Iran since 9/11?”

Most importantly, Carlson is saying something pundits, especially conservative ones, rarely say on television: that America must prioritize. Since the George W. Bush years, conservative politicians and pundits have demanded that the United States become more aggressive everywhere. They’ve insisted that America confront China, Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea, the Taliban, ISIS, and al-Qaeda, all at the same time. Strategically, that’s absurd. Because America’s power is limited, its goals must be too. Foreign policy involves tradeoffs. Carlson acknowledges that. “How many wars can we fight at once?” he asked Peters. “How many people can we be in opposition to at once?” He told Boot that, “In a world full of threats, you create a hierarchy of them. You decide which is the worst and you go down the list.”

His nastiness notwithstanding, Carlson is offering a glimpse into what Fox News would look like as an intellectually interesting network. He’s moderating a debate between the two strands of thinking that have dominated conservative foreign policy for roughly a century. On foreign policy, what has long united conservatives is their emphasis on sovereignty—their contempt for Woodrow Wilson’s vision of international law and global community. But some conservatives oppose restraints on American sovereignty primarily because they want the U.S. to impose its will on other countries. (Think Dick Cheney.) Other conservatives oppose those restraints primarily because they want to prevent other countries from imposing their will on the United States. (Think Ron Paul.)

For over a century, conservative interventionists and conservative anti-interventionists have taken turns at the helm of the American right. In the 1920s, after Wilson failed to bring America into the League of Nations, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge—perhaps the two most conservative presidents of the 20th century—steadfastly avoided military entanglements in Europe. But after World War II, William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and others argued that anti-communism now required confronting the USSR around the world. While conservatives in the 1930s had generally attacked Franklin Roosevelt as too interventionist, conservatives from the 1950s through the 1980s generally attacked Democrats as not interventionist enough.

When the Cold War ended, the pendulum swung again. Pat Buchanan led a revival of conservative anti-interventionism. The biggest foreign policy complaint of Republican politicians during the 1990s was that Bill Clinton’s humanitarian interventions were threatening American sovereignty by too deeply entangling the United States with the UN.

Then came September 11, which like Pearl Harbor and the onset of the Cold War, led the right to embrace foreign wars.  . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 8:30 pm

Jared Kushner Helps Out His Little Brother

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Kevin Drum blogs:

Last month Jared Kushner organized a meeting of tech giants to meet with President Trump. Tim Cook was there. Jeff Bezos was there. Larry Page was there. In all, companies with market caps ranging from $9 billion to $770 billion were there.

Plus the CEO of a teensy little startup with a market cap of $0.2 billion. Can you guess who it was? Can you? Huh?

Of course not. You’ve never heard of either the CEO or the company. The answer is Zachary Bookman of OpenGov, a company partly owned by Kushner’s brother, Joshua Kushner. I’m sure Josh’s investment will do well now that OpenGov has gotten this kind of high-profile attention. And that’s what brothers are for, aren’t they?

Jared Kushner is a one-man wrecking crew in the White House. If Donald Trump’s enemies were trying to infiltrate his inner circle and destroy his presidency, they couldn’t do better than Kushner. The only thing that keeps me from thinking Kushner is a DNC plant or a mutant super villain is the fact that he’s so obviously dim that his actions make a sort of demented sense. Eventually he’s going to bring the entire White House down around Donald Trump’s ears, and the entire time he’ll be standing there with that weird, blank look on his face, thinking that everything is still just fine.

The Wall Street Journal has the whole story here. Apologies for the log scale in the chart below. It was the only way to show all the companies on a single axis. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 8:12 pm

Just watch this: Shep Smith responds to Chris Wallace with a true (and coherent) rant

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 6:55 pm

Michigan official stands by call for killing of all Muslims

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Is Trump really bringing our country together? (See also: “‘Why we have Trump’: Airbnb host fined for canceling Asian-American’s reservation“) The Associated Press reports:

A local official in northern Michigan refuses to apologize for sharing Facebook posts calling for the killing of “every last Muslim” and for nuclear weapons to be used on the world’s 10-largest Muslim-majority cities.

Jeff Sieting, the village president in Kalkaska, which is about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Detroit, said Monday that he doesn’t owe anyone an apology over his Facebook posts, the Record-Eagle of Traverse City reported (http://bit.ly/2uaNYKP ).

The posts were discovered by area native Cindy Anderson, who along with others unsuccessfully sought an apology last month. They’re now looking to remove Sieting from office.

“You ran for office to represent all of the people of this community, not just the white, non-Muslim ones,” Anderson said to Sieting. “You were supposed to represent all of your constituents.”

One post Sieting shared said Muslims are destructive and “there is simply no place for them in our world.” The post also called for using nuclear weapons against the 10 largest Muslim-majority cities, as well as pilgrimage sites.

Sieting said his comments are protected by the First Amendment and that those trying to oust him from office are only doing so because they oppose President Donald Trump.

“I don’t expect everyone to see things the way I do,” he said. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 5:17 pm

Awkward: Peter W. Smith, GOP operative who sought Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, committed suicide, records show

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What is going on? Katherine Skiba, David Heinzmann, and Todd Lighty report in the Chicago Tribune:

Republican donor and operative from Chicago’s North Shore who said he had tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from Russian hackers killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts, public records show.

In mid-May, in a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, including a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.

Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it began publishing stories about his efforts in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump’s campaign, an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump’s national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia.

At the time, the newspaper reported Smith’s May 14 death came about 10 days after he granted the interview. Mystery shrouded how and where he had died, but the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.

 

However, the Chicago Tribune obtained a Minnesota state death record filed in Olmsted County saying Smith committed suicide in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic at 1:17 p.m. on Sunday, May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached. A medical examiner’s report gives the same account, without specifying the time, and a report from Rochester police further details his suicide.

In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.”

He had been staying at the hotel for several days and had extended his stay at least once but was expected to check out on the day his body was found. “Tomorrow is my last day,” Smith told a hotel worker on May 13 while he worked on a computer in the business center, printing documents, according to the police reports.

One of Smith’s former employees told the Tribune he thought the elderly man had gone to the famed clinic to be treated for a heart condition. Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo said Thursday she could not confirm Smith had been a patient, citing medical privacy laws.

The Journal stories said that on Labor Day weekend last year Smith assembled a team to acquire emails the team theorized might have been stolen from the private server Clinton had used while secretary of state. Smith’s focus was the more than 30,000 emails Clinton said she deleted because they related to personal matters. A huge cache of other Clinton emails were made public.

Smith told the Journal he believed the missing emails might have been obtained by Russian hackers. He also said he thought the correspondence related to Clinton’s official duties. He told the Journal he worked independently and was not part of the Trump campaign. He also told the Journal he and his team found five groups of hackers — two of them Russian groups — that claimed to have Clinton’s missing emails.

Smith had a history of doing opposition research, the formal term for unflattering information that political operatives dig up about rival candidates.

For years, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was Smith’s target. . .

Continue reading.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Could it be that Ivanka is just another scam artist without an honest bone in her body? (Does the apple fall far from the tree?)

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Matea Gold, Drew Harwell, Maher Sattar, and Simon Denyer write in the Washington Post:

The first daughter talks about improving the lives of working women. Her father urges companies to “buy American.” But her fashion line’s practices collide with those principles – and are out of step with industry trends.

On Inauguration Day, President Trump stood in front of the U.S. Capitol and vowed that his “America First” agenda would bring jobs back to the United States.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” he declared, adding: “We will follow two simple rules — buy American and hire American.”

Looking on from the front of the stage was Trump’s daughter Ivanka, the celebrity and fashion entrepreneur who would soon join him in the White House.

The first daughter’s cause would be improving the lives of working women, a theme she had developed at her clothing line. She also brought a direct link to the global economy the president was railing against — a connection that was playing out at that very moment on the Pacific coast.

As the Trumps stood on stage, a hulking container ship called the OOCL Ho Chi Minh City was pulling into the harbor of Long Beach, Calif., carrying around 500 pounds of foreign-made Ivanka Trump spandex-knit blouses.

Another 10 ships hauling Ivanka Trump-branded shoes, cardigans and leather handbags bound for the United States were floating in the north Pacific and Atlantic oceans and off the coasts of Malta, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Yemen.

Those global journeys — along with millions of pounds of Ivanka Trump products imported into the United States in more than 2,000 shipments since 2010 — illustrate how her business practices collide with some of the key principles she and her father have championed in the White House.

While President Trump has chastised companies for outsourcing jobs overseas, an examination by The Washington Post has revealed the extent to which Ivanka Trump’s company relies exclusively on foreign factories in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and China, where low-wage laborers have limited ability to advocate for themselves.

And while Ivanka Trump published a book this spring declaring that improving the lives of working women is “my life’s mission,” The Post found that her company lags behind many in the apparel industry when it comes to monitoring the treatment of the largely female workforce employed in factories around the world.

From big brands such as Adidas and Kenneth Cole to smaller, newer players like California-based Everlane, many U.S. clothing companies have in recent years made protecting factory workers abroad a priority — hiring independent auditors to monitor labor conditions, pressing factory owners to make improvements and providing consumers with details about the overseas facilities where their goods are produced.

But the Trump brand has taken a more hands-off approach. Although executives say they have a code of conduct that prohibits physical abuse and child labor, the company relies on its suppliers to abide by the policy.

The clothing line declined to disclose the language of the code.

Trump, who now works full time in the White House, has stepped away from daily operations of her business. She has assumed a high-profile place on the world stage — a role that was on display last weekend when she briefly filled in for her father during a meeting with foreign leaders, seated between the president of China and the British prime minister.

Trump still owns her company, which has faced increasing scrutiny in recent months for its use of overseas factories, and her representatives have said she has the power to veto new deals.

Trump did not respond to requests for comment about what efforts she made to oversee her company’s supply chain before she joined the administration.

Her attorney Jamie Gorelick told The Post in a statement that Trump is “concerned” about recent reports regarding the treatment of factory workers and “expects that the company will respond appropriately.”

In the wake of Trump’s departure, the brand has begun to explore hiring a nonprofit workers’ rights group to increase oversight of its production and help improve factory conditions, the company’s executives told The Post.

Abigail Klem, who has been a top executive at the brand since 2013 and its president since January, said she is planning her first trip to tour some of the facilities that make Ivanka Trump products in the coming year.

Klem said she is confident that the company’s suppliers operate “at the highest standards,” adding, “Ivanka sought to partner with the best in the industry.”

The company had not yet matched the policies of other labels because it was newer and smaller, she added, but is now focusing on what more it can do.

“The mission of this brand has always been to inspire and empower women to create the lives they want to live and give them tools to do that,” Klem said. “We’re looking to ensure that we can sort of live this mission from top to bottom with our licensees, with our supply chain.”

The company still has no immediate plans to follow the emerging industry trend of publishing the names and locations of factories that produce its goods. It declined to provide a list of the facilities.

The Post used data drawn from U.S. customs logs and international shipping records to trace Trump-branded products from far-flung factories to ports around the United States. The Post also interviewed workers at three garment factories that have made Trump products who said their jobs often come with exhausting hours, subsistence pay and insults from supervisors if they don’t work fast enough.

“My monthly salary is not enough for everyday expenses, also not for the future,” said a 26-year-old sewing operator in Subang, Indonesia, who said she has helped make Trump dresses.

Like many U.S.-based apparel companies, the Trump brand signs deals with suppliers, which, in turn, contract manufacturing work to factories around the world. The system allows products to be sold to consumers for lower prices and creates economic opportunity — and risks — for workers in poor regions.

In China, where three activists investigating factories making her line were recently arrested, assembly-line workers produce Ivanka Trump woven blouses, shoes and handbags. Laborers in Indonesia stitch together her  . . .

Continue reading.

Ivanka is dishonest to the core. She presents well, and knows what to say to win people over, but she’s a scam artist like her dad. No wonder he likes her so much: a chip off the old block.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 4:09 pm

Outrageous Massachusetts Drug Bill Would Send You to Prison and Steal Your Car — No Drugs Needed

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The War on Drugs is becoming simply a war, no drugs needed. However, note that this is a bill, not a law, and any idiot legislator can propose a bill. Still, the story shows the degree to which drug laws can get out of hand as hysteria takes over. Philip Smith reports in Drug War Chronicles:

With the support of state law enforcement, a Massachusetts Democratic state representative has filed a drug war bill that would send violators to prison for a mandatory minimum two years (five years for a second offense) and allow police to seize their vehicles — all without the presence of any actual drugs.

Sponsored by Rep. Stephan Hay (D-Fitchfield), the measure, House Bill 1266, makes it a crime to have a hidden compartment in one’s vehicle or to try to add one — and it presumes that any hidden compartment in a vehicle is for “for the purpose of transporting or distributing controlled substances” and related contraband, such as cash or weapons. As the bill specifies in its asset forfeiture section:

Proof that a conveyance contains a hidden compartment as defined in this section shall be prima facie evidence that the conveyance was used intended for use in and for the business of unlawfully manufacturing, dispensing, or distributing controlled substances.

This is a legislative attempt to redefine reality in the name of drug war priorities akin to South Dakota’s law deeming meth use or possession by a parent as child abuse. Despite that law, meth use is not child abuse, although it could lead to it. Similarly, having a hidden compartment in a car does not mean one is involved in trafficking, although one could be. But in both cases, legislators seek to twist reality to sync with prohibitionist — and punitive — ideology.

Only one state, Ohio, has a similar law on the books, and it has only been used once, but that one instance should be disturbing. In 2013, state troopers stopped Norman Gurley and discovered a secret compartment in his vehicle. They found absolutely no drugs but arrested him anyway on charges he broke the secret compartment law. That case briefly became a national news sensation before fading into obscurity, but it still lives: Gurley is set for a jury trial in December.

Police in Massachusetts are supporting this bill not only because it gives them one more tool in their war on drugs, but also because they get to keep any cars they seize. Massachusetts has the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the country, and unlike states that are lining up to end forfeitures without a criminal conviction, as neighboring Connecticut did this week, cops only need to reach the threshold of probable cause that someone’s cash or car or other property is related to a crime to seize it. This bill would make it all the easier, and they wouldn’t even need to find any drugs.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 July 2017 at 3:33 pm

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