Patterico's Pontifications


Michael Flynn ‘s Sentencing Postponed

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:45 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Michael Flynn faced an angry judge at his sentencing hearing :

A federal judge on Tuesday postponed the sentencing for Michael Flynn after he lambasted President Trump’s former national security adviser for trying to undermine the country and warned he might not spare Flynn from prison.

The stunning development means that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s engagement with Flynn will continue for some months longer, leaving Flynn to wonder whether he will lose his freedom. Flynn’s attorney requested the delay after the judge’s opinion became apparent, hoping further cooperation with law enforcement could earn the court’s mercy.

From the start, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan made clear he was infuriated by Flynn’s conduct — both in lying to the FBI while in the White House, and working to advance the interests of the Turkish government while he was a part of Trump’s campaign.

The judge seemed to take particular umbrage at the suggestion made by Flynn and his supporters, just before the sentencing, that he was duped by the FBI. Early in the hearing, Sullivan forced Flynn to admit publicly that he knew lying to the bureau was illegal, and that he was guilty of a crime. Later, the judge pointed to an American flag as he berated the former three-star general for his misdeeds.

“Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for,” the judge said. “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

Flynn, standing straight and flanked by attorneys on either side, looked shaken, his jaw clenched.

Also, the judge cautioned Flynn:

The judge said he would take into account Flynn’s cooperation, but he also detailed Flynn’s crimes.

“I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,” Sullivan said.

He issued Flynn a warning, and asked if he might like to postpone the sentencing, so he could keep cooperating with the special counsel’s office.

“I cannot assure you, if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration,” Sullivan said.

The administration responded to today’s developments with this from Sarah Sanders:

“The FBI broke standard protocol in the way that they came in and ambushed General Flynn.”

Tweeting before today’s hearing, President Trump wished Flynn “good luck”:

Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!

Have at it.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Trump Administration to Issue Second Round of Payouts to Victims of Trump Tariffs

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:05 am

Winning! Winning so hard … we are bailing out the victims of our policies that are making us win:

The Trump administration will move forward with plans to distribute a second round of payments to farmers caught in the crosshairs of a trade war with China.

“Today I am making good on my promise to defend our farmers and ranchers from unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” President Donald Trump said via Twitter Monday.

In July, his administration announced it would deliver as much as $12 billion in aid to farmers after Beijing slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, including 25 percent duties on soybeans. Nations including Mexico had also taken trade action against U.S. farm goods this year.

Farmers form part of the rural base that helped catapult Trump into the White House. The administration distributed some $4.7 billion in the first round of direct government aid. With tensions between Trump and China showing signs of thawing, there was uncertainty within the agriculture industry as to when or if the second round would be distributed.

In a statement Monday, the U.S. Agriculture Department put the total payment at $9.57 billion.

If you opposed the 2009 bailout of the financial industry, it’s hard to see how you could support this trade war and the concomitant bailouts.

But, he said with a tired sigh, I’m sure some Trump superfan will try to explain how this is all consistent.

As for me, I am well and truly tired of such “winning.” If this is winning, I’d rather lose.

P.S. It’s an old chestnut, but this is the season for chestnuts. Roast this Harry Browne quote on your open fire:

The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, “See if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.”

Break a leg!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Loneliness Is Killing More Americans Every Year

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:14 am

Karol Markowicz in the New York Post:

Americans are dying — earlier than they have been and often at their own hands.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 tally, there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of US deaths by suicide and drug overdose.

Many of the books I have read lately have discussed this phenomenon and have reached the same conclusion about its cause: loneliness. These books range from The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Jonathan Haidt and FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, to Them: Why We Hate Each Other–and How to Heal by Ben Sasse (both affiliate links). Markowicz agrees:

An op-ed in The New York Times by Arthur Brooks a few weeks ago noted that Americans are suffering from an “epidemic of loneliness.” Brooks cited a large-scale survey by the insurance company Cigna, in which nearly half of respondents said “they sometimes or always feel alone or ‘left out.’ ” More than 10 percent of respondents reported that “zero people know them well.”

That’s a lot of people adrift without anyone to cling to. In 2019, let’s work on being kinder to each other.

Let’s be the people who step in when someone is hurting or in trouble. Let’s put down our phones and laptops
and make connections on our blocks and in our neighborhoods. Let’s seek out the lonely, the outcasts. Let 2018’s victims open our eyes to the desperation all around us.

We’re literally dying without each other.

Great piece. Read it all.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 136

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the third Sunday of Advent. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz” (Examine me, God, and know my heart).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 3:7-18:

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Search me, God, and determine my heart; test me and determine what I think!

Alas, that the curse, which strikes the earth there,
also hits the heart of these people!
Who can hope for good fruit,
where this curse reaches even to the soul,
so that it brings the thorns of sin
and bears the pricks of blasphemy.
Yet often the children of hell wish
to represent themselves as angels of light;
so that among these corrupted beings
grapes might be gleaned from these thorns .
A wolf might conceal himself with a pure wool cloak,
yet a day will dawn,
which will be to you, you hypocrites, a terror,
indeed unbearable.

A day will come,
when the Hidden One will judge,
before which hypocrisy may well tremble.
For the wrath of His vengeance will annihilate
what hypocrisy and deceit fashion.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


President Trump: Good Riddance To The Weekly Standard

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:37 pm

[guest post by Dana]

What sad news to learn that The Weekly Standard is no more:

The Weekly Standard went out of business on Friday—killed by right-wing Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who purchased the respected 23-year-old conservative journal from its original owner, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, in 2009, for a reported $1 million.

“We are done,” Stephen F. Hayes, the Standard’s editor in chief, told his staff of nearly 40 Friday morning, after a brief meeting with executives of Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group in Washington, D.C.

Employees had their company email abruptly cut off on Friday; on Thursday, editors toiling to finish the final issue—which was emailed to an estimated 110,000 subscribers on Friday and will be circulated in a last print edition dated Dec. 17—had trouble gaining access to the Weekly Standard computer server, according to an email circulated among the staff.

There have been suggestions in the blogosphere that the publication will killed because of its anti-Trump tilt. However, that might not be accurate:

Some are suggesting the magazine — which shared parent ownership with The Post for its first 14 years — was killed for being too critical of President Trump. But none of our sources are buying that claim.

After all, as John Podhoretz, who co-founded the magazine with Bill Kristol, notes, not being a team player was always part of The Weekly Standard’s DNA.

And that was deliberate: “Our loyalty was to the ideas in which we believed,” he writes, “not to the Republican Party.” In that respect, it provided a vital platform for trenchant and incisive conservative opinionizing, as well as important hard-news reporting, feature writing and biting satire.

It’s also not definitively clear whether the publication was shuttered due to personal reasons or the result of a shrewd business decision:

The magazine’s owner, Clarity Media Group, is shifting subscriptions to the magazine version of another of its products, The Washington Examiner. But insiders doubt boosting the Examiner was truly sufficient reason not to just sell the Standard, and suggest a personal vendetta is at work.


Murdoch patiently funded their magazine for 14 years, and it garnered praise for editorial excellence even as it consistently lost money—between $2 million and $4 million a year, according to a source familiar with the figures.

The magazine continued to lose similar amounts under Anschutz’s ownership, which didn’t prevent the billionaire from authorizing hires of new staff in the past two years before apparently losing enthusiasm.

Ironically, the Washington Examiner—the principal beneficiary of The Standard’s demise—is said to be even more unprofitable. Representatives of Clarity Media Group didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment.

According to one reporter, Clarity’s CEO was a total jerk in a meeting wtih the newly unemployed:

I obtained audio of today’s staff meeting where Clarity Media Group announced the closure of The Weekly Standard. Clarity’s CEO told employees, “Don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy”

Honestly, I really don’t know the real reason for TWS shutting down. What I do know is that there are now a number of talented writers currently out of work. And, that the closing of the publication comes in the midst of the Christmas season makes it even worse. Whether a publication swings left or right, we should root for their existence, and hope that they publish challenging and thoughtful pieces. Pieces that either confirm your positions held, or are so substantial and provocative that they become mini-revelations compelling readers to reconsider what they think about an issue. As far as the conservative point-of-view is concerned, it really is a blow to have one less voice extolling conservative principles and ideals. Even if one hasn’t agreed with everything put out by TWS, there is little doubt that they have always produced interesting, complex and challenging material. One’s mind can be sharpened in so many ways. I’m hoping and praying that these writers find work soon, and are able to once again be a public voice for the conservative movement.

With that, I was horrified to see the President of the United States attack The Weekly Standard after its closure was announced:


W.T.F.!! Our president is happy to see a conservative publication shuttered, and its employees losing their jobs. Because he is so damn petty, vindictive, thin-skinned, and unable to rise above any criticism, he couldn’t just keep his yap shut but instead viciously rubbed salt in the wound of unemployed Americans who are now trying to figure out their next move. What an outrageous thing to do because you don’t like what was said about you. Boo-hoo, you big fat baby. Only a self-centered pustule of a human being would stoop so low. That he is our sitting president makes it worse. And what is so utterly ridiculous is that he doesn’t seem to realize that *he is* the sitting president. He won the election. None of Kristol’s preferred candidates won. This insipid man-child has yet again diminished his position by his behavior, and he has cast immense doubts on any claims made that he is concerned about unemployment in this country, and the livelihood of Americans. There is absolutely no excuse for this. There is also absolutely no defense that can be made on his behalf. He is a grown man, he owns his imbecilic behavior.

#BeBest, my ass.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Virtually All Trump-Led Organizations Under Investigation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:16 pm

Washington Post:

Two years after Donald Trump won the presidency, nearly every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation.

Trump’s private company is contending with civil suits digging into its business with foreign governments and with looming state inquiries into its tax practices.

Trump’s 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation into Russian interference has already led to guilty pleas by his campaign chairman and four advisers.

Trump’s inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman plans to further investigate next year.

Trump’s charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”

The mounting inquiries are building into a cascade of legal challenges that threaten to dominate Trump’s third year in the White House. In a few weeks, Democrats will take over in the House and pursue their own investigations into all of the above — and more.

How you perceive this is almost certainly driven by your view of the man. Do you think he’s a con artist and a clown? Then you’re likely to react to this by saying: “Good.” Do you think he’s a Hero of the People who has been unfairly targeted by the Deep State? Then you probably see this as a very bad thing — perhaps close to treason.

Either way, lots of good drama headed your way with the Reality Show Presidency. Season Three is going to be a blockbuster. Too bad we can’t binge watch it all now.

Ah, even watching it day to day will feel like binge-watching anyway.


Rudy: Hey, Nobody Got Killed or Robbed with This Campaign Finance Violation Stuff

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:15 am

You tell ’em, Rudy.

Trump insists he is innocent of any related crimes because he never explicitly asked for Cohen or AMI to violate campaign finance law by sitting on stories of his extra-marital affairs. And the president’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, contends that the scandal is overblown entirely.

“Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed… This was not a big crime,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. He added, sardonically, “I think in two weeks they’ll start with parking tickets that haven’t been paid.”

I know, right? Next thing they’ll target urinating in public.

Here’s what I would say to Rudy:

This is what broken windows theory is all about. I mean, if some guy is urinating in public, we got a problem. Now, you can do one of two things. You can ignore the problem and say: “Gee, I’m such a big fuzzy-headed liberal that I’m gonna walk away from it and we’re gonna make believe there’s no problem.” … You’ve got to pay attention to somebody urinating on the street. It may be a minor thing, it may be a serious thing, but you cannot ignore it. You have to deal with it. It is against the law to urinate in public.

That’s what I would say.

Oh wait.

Someone already said that.

Good old Rudy.

Ken White and Josh Barro have a weekly podcast titled “All the President’s Lawyers” — which I listen to religiously, and you should too — and they have this sound clip as part of their opening. I can’t hear any story about Rudy without wanting to share it, I love it so:

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Oh, I See

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:19 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Cross-posted on The Jury Talks Back.


Trump Campaign Finance Case Starting to Look Worse for Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:16 am

With the official cooperation of AMI (the owner of the National Enquirer) with federal prosecutors, the potential campaign finance violations case against Donald Trump is looking stronger and stronger all the time. Stronger, in fact, than the John Edwards case.

There are many details that go into that conclusion, but let’s review two. Yesterday an agreement was made public between the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and AMI. The agreement contains this passage:

In or about August 2015, David Pecker, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMI, met with Michael Cohen, an attorney for a presidential candidate, and at least one other member of the campaign. At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because the Wall Street Journal reported it on November 9 (credit to Justin Miller for catching this):

As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Now, most of the details of that WSJ story have been corroborated by federal prosecutors in their agreement with AMI. The one key detail federal prosecutors did not yet say explicitly is who the “other member of the campaign” was. If the WSJ is correct, that member was Donald Trump.

Following the age-old wisdom of keeping your mouth shut when under the scrutiny of law enforcement, Trump took to Twitter this morning. He blames the lawyer:

The charges were indeed crimes, Trump’s whinging notwithstanding. And the above evidence (as well as the timing, as I have discussed before) shows it was done for the benefit of his campaign, rather to protect his marriage — which was John Edwards’s argument.

Now, Trump has a potential defense: I didn’t know it was illegal to secretly pay money to cover up a story about a mistress for the benefit of my campaign. His ignorance and stupidity would be a bonus here. What’s the problem with that defense? And that brings me to the second piece of evidence I want to mention. You know how they say “there’s a Trump tweet for everything”? Yeah.

Trump tweeted about the John Edwards case.

He knew making this payment was for the benefit of his campaign, and he knew it was illegal. He directed his lawyer to make the payment, and now his lawyer is going to prison for it.

Increasingly, it looks like Donald Trump belongs in prison as well.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Michael Cohen Sentenced To Three Years

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:45 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Calling the charges that Cohen pled guilty to a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct,” and stating that Cohen had “lost his moral compass,” U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley sentenced Michael Cohen to three years this morning:

Michael Cohen, who as President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer once vowed he would “take a bullet” for his boss, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to two women that he says was done at the direction of Trump.

The sentence was in line with what federal prosecutors asked for. Sentencing guidelines called for around four to five years behind bars, and prosecutors asked in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break. He is ordered to surrender March 6.

Cohen read a statement at the sentencing hearing today:

“Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back.”

“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.”

“I stand before your honor humbly and painfully aware that we are here for one reason.”

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pleaded guilty to,” including those implicating the “President of the United States of America.”

“Today is one of the most meaning days of my life.”

My “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump.”

“I have chosen this unorthodox path because the sooner that I am sentenced,” the sooner I can return to my family.

“I do not need a cooperation agreement in place to do the right thing.”

He then mentions his family members, by name, and says he brought pain and shame on his family. Mentions his mom, dad, and children, and says to them “I’m sorry.” Long pause.

“The president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world,” Cohen said mockingly, “calling me a rat.”

He said Trump tried to influence the proceedings that “implicate” him.

He apologized again to his family before wrapping up. His voice cracked with apparent emotion, as he apologizes to “the people of the United States” for lying to us.

“You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”

Cohen also made a point to respond to President Trump’s accusation that he was weak:

“Recently the President tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

Cohen had pleaded guilty to a total of nine federal charges, including several counts of tax fraud and campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress and banks.

Cohen has been ordered to voluntarily surrender on March 6, and has been ordered to pay financial penalties (forfeiture of $500,000, restitution of $1.4 million and two separate fines of $50,000 — one for Mueller’s case and another for the SDNY one).

Court reporter Adam Klasfeld, who was in the courtroom, tweeted the hearing as it happened. Read here for those details.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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