Patterico's Pontifications


Is Revealing Truth Important No Matter Where the Truth Comes From?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am

It depends! Just ask the Trumpists.

  • Trumpists: it’s fine that the Russians hacked Democrats’ emails because it revealed truth. Revealing truth is always good no matter how the truth gets out. Free Julian Assange!
  • Also Trumpists: A bunch of embarrassing information was released on Trump in the Mueller report to just to hurt him. The people who started the Russia investigation need to go to jail.

The Mueller report is like a Rorschach inkblot. Both sides read it and think someone should go to jail. Trumpists think the people who should be jailed are the investigators. Non-Trumpists think the people who should be jailed are the people who engaged in the criminal behavior described in the report.

But I don’t see how you praise the fact that information was released through hacking, and decry information being released through the proper operation of law enforcement.

The main benefit I see of Trump being President is good judges. But good judges are important only because the rule of law is important. Meanwhile Trump is eroding and attacking the rule of law in any way possible when it comes to anything having to do with him.

The trade-off is not worth it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Sunday Music: Bach’s Easter Oratorio BWV 249

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 am

Happy Easter! Today’s Bach piece is his Easter Oratorio.

Today’s Gospel reading is John 20:1-18:

The Empty Tomb

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

Come, hurry and run, you speedy feet,
reach the cavern which conceals Jesus!
Laugter and merriment
accompanies our hearts,
since our Savior is risen again.

. . . .

He is risen from the dead!
We encountered an angel
who gave us these tidings.

. . . .

We are delighted
that our Jesus lives again,
and our hearts,
which first dissolved and floated in grief,
forget the pain
and imagine songs of joy;
for our Savior lives again.

It is a day of delight. May we all put aside our differences today and be joyful.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Did Mueller Refer Trump for Impeachment?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:23 pm

Remember that I said four days before the Mueller report came out:

I doubt Mueller has made any express “referral” of any of this to Congress, but there will likely be some subtle reference to the notion that the fact that no prosecutions were brought should not preclude Congress from evaluating the material in its oversight capacity. It’s hard for me to imagine the absence of any statement like that, given that Mueller so pointedly refused to exonerate Trump on obstruction. Why make a point of that lack of exoneration if the matter is not to be taken up by Congress in some way?

I was mocked for this by some here, but this was my specific prediction. Indeed, in a comment written ten days before the report came out, I hypothesized as to how such a comment might read:

I’d be surprised if Mueller explicitly referred something to Congress and Barr didn’t mention it — but it’s not impossible. And I would not be at all surprised if Mueller said something like: “This report does not conclude, one way or another, whether the extensive evidence of obstruction of justice laid out above reaches a level that justifies prosecution. Such a pronouncement involves difficult issues of law and fact that the undersigned believes may be more appropriately resolved by Congress. Given that Congress is a co-equal branch with an oversight role that can include sanctions as provided by the Constitution, the undersigned believes that the evidence described above is more appropriately reviewed by Congress to determine whether that body believes that obstruction has occurred — and, if so, what (if any) sanction is appropriate for that obstruction.”

Here is what the report says about impeachment, in relevant part:

The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the constitutional separation of powers.”1 [Footnote 1 reads as follows: A Sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. 222, 222, 260 (2000) (OLC Op.).] Given the role of the Special Counsel as an attorney in the Department of Justice and the framework of the Special Counsel regulations, see 28 U.S.C. § 515; 28 C.F.R. § 600.7(a), this Office accepted OLC’s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction. And apart from OLC’s constitutional view, we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.2 [Footnote 2 reads as follows: See U .S. CONST. Art. I § 2, cl. 5; § 3, cl. 6; cf. OLC Op. at 257-258 (discussing relationship between impeachment and criminal prosecution of a sitting President).]

All bold emphasis is mine.

Omitting all the citations and other legal throat-clearing, Mueller is saying: I accepted the OLC opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted in part because doing so would “potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct” — constitutional processes that include impeachment.

Mueller also took special care to note that, in his view, Congress’s obstruction laws can validly apply to official presidential actions without overstepping Congress’s Article I role or unconstitutionally impinging on the President’s Article II powers:

[W]hen the President’s official actions come into conflict with the prohibitions in the obstruction statutes, any constitutional tension is reconciled through separation-of-powers analysis…. Applying the Court’s framework for analysis, we concluded that Congress can validly regulate the President’s exercise of official duties to prohibit actions motivated by a corrupt intent to obstruct justice. The limited effect on presidential power that results from that restriction would not impermissibly undermine the President’s ability to perform his Article II functions.

(Some journalists have read this incorrectly as saying Congress can criminalize Trump’s behavior specifically, but it’s actually just a general analysis of Congress’s constitutional authority to pass laws that arguably invade the president’s constitutional powers.)

Is any of the above language an explicit impeachment referral? That’s debatable, but I would not waste any energy arguing that it is.

Is it a declaration that Congress is a co-equal branch with an oversight role that can include sanctions as provided by the Constitution, which include impeachment? (In other words, precisely what I predicted?) You bet it is.

Always trust content from Patterico.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


The Mueller Report: Preliminary Reaction to the Reporting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

I have not read the report. I’ve been working today. I’ve seen some of the discussion about it and seen some quotes from it that seem worth commentary, but until I read it (and who knows when that will be) this is all tentative.

Basic takeaway: if Trump managed not to obstruct justice, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. He tried and tried, but could not get his underlings to monkey with the system as he wanted them to.

As for “collusion”: stop using that word. Mueller did not analyze “collusion.” He found that the investigation did not establish a conspiracy with Russia to interfere with the election. Continued use of the term collusion (given its abuse by both sides, as documented below) serves to obscure rather than enlighten.

Now, the detail:

First, on obstruction: this is just a damning passage:

Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations. The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels. These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony. Viewing the acts collectively can help to illuminate their significance. For example, the President’s direction to McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed was followed almost immediately by his direction to Lewandowski to tell the Attorney General to limit the scope of the Russia investigation to prospective election-interference only — a temporal connection that suggests that both acts were taken with a related purpose with respect to the investigation.

The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. Comey did not end the investigation of Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the President’s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed.

By the way, when I first discussed the story about Trump ordering McGahn to fire Mueller, commenters mocked the story. I won’t embarrass anyone by name, but check out the comments to my post about it. I’m just saying: when you defend Trump and attack Big Media, you are choosing one of two unreliable narrators. If you defend either narrator with too much gusto and not enough introspection, you could end up looking foolish. Seriously, read the comments to that thread.

On collusion:

I hate to break it to you, but the Mueller report did not find “no collusion.” It found that the investigation failed to establish a “conspiracy” with Russian electoral interference. Period.

There was no collusion finding. At all. No collusion finding.

In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[e]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law. In connection with that analysis, we addressed the factual question whether members of the Trump Campaign “coordinat[ed]”-a term that appears in the appointment order-with Russian election interference activities. Like collusion, “coordination ” does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

I’ve seen dopey analysis of this all day. At the gym, I saw a CNN chyron saying “no collusion.” Nope! The report made no such finding. Similarly, I saw a widely cited former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti, tweet about Mueller’s “conclusion regarding ‘collusion'” and claim that Mueller “interpreted [collusion] to require an ‘agreement … with the Russian government on election interference.’”

This is entirely wrong, as shown by simply reading the very passage Mariotti quotes. Mueller made no “conclusion regarding ‘collusion'” because (as just explained) Mueller explicitly disclaimed any attempt to analyze the term “collusion” because it has no place in the relevant federal statutes.

Why does this matter? Well, for one thing, all of a sudden you have both sides gaslighting the other side and moving the goalposts all over the place.

On the right, many folks seem to be saying that literally everyone on Earth has been using the term “collusion” to refer to a criminal conspiracy, and to claim otherwise is just gaslighting and goalpost-shifting, and so: Mueller found no collusion! To those who say that literally everyone said collusion necessarily referred only to criminal activity, I respond: did I dream Rudy Giuliani saying “Collusion is not a crime”? No:

Did I dream Donald Trump tweeting: “Collusion is not a crime?” No:

But the left is doing the same kind of gaslighting and goalpost-shifting. To the extent that folks on the left are claiming “we never said the term collusion referred to criminal activity” they are also full of it, because plenty did. Here is Seth Waxman’s pinned tweet:

Waxman Collusion

And here’s PolitiFact claiming that Trump was factually wrong when he said: “Collusion is not a crime.”

PolitiFact Collusion

As my now pinned tweet says:

It’s the first tweet I have ever pinned to my Twitter profile.

My real concern is not a partisan bickering over the meaning of a term that is not used in the law in the relevant context. It’s that a) the Mueller report clearly says that Mueller did not make a ruling on “collusion” but the Attorney General of the United States this morning repeatedly falsely said that Mueller had:

Indeed, as the report states, “[t]he investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.” Put another way, the Special Counsel found no “collusion” by any Americans in the IRA’s illegal activity.

. . . .

But again, the Special Counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations. In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign “collusion” with the Russian government’s hacking.

. . . .

So that is the bottom line. After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.

After finding no underlying collusion with Russia, the Special Counsel’s report goes on to consider whether certain actions of the President could amount to obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation.

. . . .

Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.

I cannot begin to reconcile these statements with the crystal clear language of Bob Mueller: In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.”

I think Barr’s comments here were disgracefully political, and wholly inaccurate and misleading. Barr repeatedly said that Mueller ruled out “collusion” — something that Mueller said he did not analyze at all.

These comments seriously undercut Barr’s credibility in my eyes — as did his refusal to summarize and/or quote Mueller on obstruction (a topic highly unfavorable to Trump) while saying “no collusion” over and over.

More if and when I read this thing. Don’t hold your breath.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Mueller Report Appetizer

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:42 am

[guest post by Dana]

Our host will be posting his thoughts on the Mueller report this evening. In the meantime, here’s something for you to chew on. Or chew up:


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Judea Pearl Renounces NYU Alumnus Award After Anti-Israel Group Is Honored

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:36 pm

[guest post by Dana]

New York University’s Students for Justice in Palestine organization will be honored with the President’s Service Award tonight in New York. The group posted the announcement on their Facebook page last week:

We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected to receive a presidential service award at NYU. Despite the pushback we have received from our institution, we agree that we have made ‘significant contributions to the university community in the areas of learning, leadership, and quality of student life.’ Anyway, New York University, divest from Israeli apartheid. Xoxo.”

Vigorously opposing the the selection of SJP for the award is Judea Pearl, noted alumnus and father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl:

Turing Award winner Judea Pearl has renounced his status as a distinguished alumnus of New York University, following the school’s decision to award its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter — which orchestrated an ongoing boycott of Zionist student clubs — for “extraordinary and positive impact on the University community.”

Pearl, who graduated with a doctoral degree from NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering in 1965, was granted a Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Polytechnic Alumni Association during a campus lecture in 2013 and is currently a chancellor’s professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also leads a foundation named after his late son, journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed by Islamic terrorists in 2002 while on assignment in Pakistan.

Pearl explained why he is protesting the selection of SJP:

“In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote in a letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton. “The decision to confer an award on SJP, renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”

Pearl attempted to discuss his concerns with university officials, but given the condescending response, it’s clear his complaints fell on deaf ears:

Pearl stated that his efforts to engage with university officials over these concerns “have been met with platitudes about ‘free speech’ despite the fact that the US State Department now includes, in its definition of discrimination, intimidation based on race, religion and ethnicity.”

“Mr. President, I have been in academia for close to 50 years, and I know the difference between free speech and campus norms,” he continued. “Entrusted with the mandate of maintaining a climate of learning and mutual respect, your office should distance itself from the SJP selection and explain to the campus why such distancing is necessary. In the absence of a corrective action by your office the academic standing of this university is begging for other voices to call out the Orwellian character of (SJP’s) award.”

Pearl tweeted:

How can you tell when your university administrators are embarrassed by their own words? When they start lecturing you on “free speech” — the ultimate blanket for inaction or lack of courage…

From university spokesman John Beckman:

The President’s Service Award is annually granted to more than 50 extra-curricular clubs and 100 individuals, which are selected by a group of student affairs staff members and a student representative.

“While many in our university community disagree with the SJP, we will continue to defend the rights of our students and others to express their opposing views,” the official asserted.

As a reminder, here is an example of how members of SJP made an “extraordinary and positive impact on the University community, including achievements within schools and departments, the University at large, local neighborhoods, and NYU’s presence in the world.”:

Upon learning that SJP would be honored with a Presidential Service Award, NYU student organization Realize Israel posted this statement on their Facebook page [in full]:

It has come to our attention that on April 4th, NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced that they had been selected to receive the NYU President’s Service Award. We are outraged that the University would award an organization that has spent the last several years making Jewish and pro-Israel students feel unwelcome and unsafe on campus.

The NYU President’s Service Award is given to individual students or student organizations that have had “an extraordinary and positive impact on the University community” and that promotes “learning, leadership, and quality of student life at New York University.” SJP’s actions toward our community reflect none of these values.

Over the past year, SJP has led a boycott of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations by 50+ NYU “student groups.” Members of SJP defaced Israel’s flag and physically assaulted pro-Israel students for openly celebrating their identities, and members of SJP brought forward not one, but two one-sided and factually inaccurate anti-Israel resolutions to the Student Government Assembly through a non-transparent, unbalanced, and undemocratic process.

By presenting the NYU President’s Award to SJP, not only is our university condoning violence and discrimination against members of the NYU community, but it is declaring that this type of behavior represents the ethos of our university.

We are conducting an investigation to determine who selected SJP to receive this award and are committed to dialogue with those who made this decision so that they understand the severity of the situation and the repercussions of their actions on the NYU community.

We also believe it is high time that the administration put an end to this endless cycle of intimidation, and we plan to voice our concerns about the systemic anti-Semitism perpetuated by anti-Israel activism that is plaguing our campus.

Coincidentally, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace activists were co-hosting an event at NYU featuringBDS Movement co-founder Omar Barghouti , but Barghouti found himself denied entry to the U.S. today. Contrary to protests that “this is only the latest in a series of attempts to suppress Palestinian voices,” the reason for not allowing Barghouti into the U.S. seems pretty darn reasonable:

In 2007, Barghouti founded, and runs to this day, a Ramallah-based umbrella group called the BDS National Committee that serves as the leading group organizing and promoting BDS outside the United States. The reason Barghouti was barred from entering the U.S. is not because he advocates BDS or Israel’s destruction. There is no speech issue here at all.

The reason he was barred is because the group Barghouti runs includes five U.S.-designated terrorist organizations in its membership: Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the Popular Front – General Command.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Democrats: Always Generous with Someone Else’s Money

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:13 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The Democrat candidates who plan to seek the Presidency next year are releasing their tax returns (along with the requisite calls for the current White House occupant to do the same), and once again we can delight in the fact that so many progressives who think that helping the poor is the sine qua non of being a decent human being somehow don’t see the need to open up their own wallets to help. Here’s a round up of some of the notable characters.

Even the lefties at the NY Times and LA Times are snarking that the Senator Bernard Sanders’s tax returns show that he has pushed himself into the one-percent since his 2016 Presidential run. So you might assume that a self-proclaimed democratic socialist would purposely overpay his taxes in order to comport with his personally held beliefs, or at the very least he would send lots of dollars to charitable causes. But you would be wrong. Sen. and Mrs. Sanders declared $36,300 in charitable giving against their $1.31 million in income in 2017, which is a ho-hum 2.77%. This might be acceptable for a working family with a mortgage and children, but it seems pretty weak for a couple who supplements his Senate and book income with $52k per year in Social Security benefits.

That said, in comparison to some of the other Democrat candidates, Senator Sanders is a veritable Carnegie. Progressive stalwart Kamala Harris, who has a colorful history of collecting income from different sources, has released 15 years of her taxes dating back to her time as a San Francisco prosecutor, and it turns out that for some years — including her years as California’s Attorney General (annual compensation of approximately $150,000) — she reported zero in charitable contributions. Now that she is married to a well-compensated corporate lawyer and filing jointly, she reports annual joint income in the $2 million range, yet only claims average charitable giving between 1% and 3% of the couple’s annual income.

Elizabeth Warren had the good sense to just post her last eleven tax returns on her campaign website and let us dumb bloggers plow through them for nuggets. This past year, 2018, the Senator and her law professor husband reported $50,128 in giving on $786,266 of taxable income, for a much more impressive 6.4% than we have seen from her competitors. Compare that however with 2009, before Elizabeth Warren had appeared on the national scene, when the couple gave $24,442 on a combined taxable income of $890,993, for a more Sanders-esque 2.74%. It seems that the Warren-Mann household had the good sense to bump up their charitable giving percentage once she became an icon of anti-capitalist thought, but overall it appears that a quarter donation on every ten-dollar bill is closer to their level of generosity. I guess somebody’s got to pay for all of that Michelob Ultra.

Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar have both released their tax returns and like Senator Warren have helpfully posted them to their respective campaign websites. Sen. and Mr. Gillibrand in their 2013 return (I picked that year because it was the farthest year from her next election, so she wouldn’t have had political incentive to be a heavy donor that year) report $2,750 given to charity on $310,605 taxable income (0.88%) which they magnanimously bumped up to 1.75% on their 2018 return, now that the Senator wants to be President. Sen. Klobuchar and her husband John Bessler fall in the Warren-Sanders levels of giving, with reported gifts of $6,325 on $251,823 (a 2.51% ratio) back in 2013, followed up with $6,602 on $300,848 (2.19%) this last tax year.

Presumptive entree Joe Biden has not yet released his tax returns, but he has a pretty pitiful history of charitable giving from his pre-VP days. I imagine he has since seen the error of his ways and now gives whatever the political consultants advise him is the minimum to retain proper decorum, but I submit to you that those years prior to his inclusion on the Obama ticket are highly indicative of his charitable proclivities. In his miserdom, Biden joins his fellow blowhard Senator turned VP Al Gore, who embarrassed himself with a meager donation just a few short years before he would seek to replace his boss in our nation’s highest office.

Funnest of all is this year’s Democrat teenybopper crush, Robert F. O’Rourke of El Paso. A scion of white privilege, son of a judge and son-in-law to a wealthy developer, Mr. O’Rourke and his wife netted a healthy 2017 income of $370,412 yet reported only $1,166 in charitable giving, which comes out to less than one penny donated on every three dollars earned. But hey, got to save up to fund those month-long personal discovery journeys in the Southwest desert, right? The former Congressman now claims that he has donated much more than what he reported on his tax forms, and that he would reach out to the charities he has supported in order to see if they retained records that he can then provide. You can expect to hear back from him about this somewhere around the fourth of Never.



Developing Story: Fire Ravages Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; Spire Collapses [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:55 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Sad news to begin Holy Week in Western Christendom.

The famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France was engulfed in flames on Monday leading to the collapse of the structure’s main spire. The intense flames leaped out from two of its bell towers minutes before the spire collapsed, and later spread to one of the cathedral’s iconic rectangular towers.

A church spokesman told French media that all of Notre Dame cathedral’s frame is burning after the spire collapsed.

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told local outlets.

[. . .]

The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, told BFMTV that the cathedral has suffered “colossal damages.”

Paris emergency services said they were trying to salvage the artwork stored in the cathedral.

At least there does not yet appear to be any deaths attributed to the blaze. It’s very sad to see an elegant and historic church damaged so horribly. Not to push the point too far, but the burning building unfortunately stands as a metaphor for the Church in modern Europe.

Here’s the cathedral seen in better days, taken from a visit I made nearly six years ago. The spire has now collapsed, and apparently the roof is in danger.

Notre Dame

I sincerely hope the French people have the will to rebuild this beautiful structure.

UPDATE: The parish priest from my boyhood passes along this poignant Tweet.

UPDATE II: Heartbreaking. It’s confirmed that the three iconic stained glass windows, the West Rose (dating from AD 1225), the North Rose, and the South Rose (both dating from AD 1250), have exploded in the fire.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: This CNN story says that the rose windows have all survived contrary to previous reports. The organ supposed survived as well. What a relief.



Trump Does Not Actually Care About the Dangers Posed by Illegal Immigrants

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:59 pm

Donald Trump has finally revealed that he does not actually care about the dangers posed to Americans by illegal immigrants. He has revealed that his talk about sanctuary cities — one of the few points on which I agreed with him — was insincere.

How do I know this? I’ll tell you. Watch this.

Mexico is now apprehending and bringing back to the various countries that we’re talking about — Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador — they’re bringing people back to those countries; Colombia, to a certain extent — and they’re going back to those countries.

But we could fix that and so fast if the Democrats would agree. But if they don’t agree, we might as well do what they always say they want: We’ll bring the illegal — really, you call them the “illegals.” I call them the “illegals.” They came across the border illegally. We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it, whether it’s a state or whatever it might be. California certainly is always saying, “Oh, we want more people.” And they want more people in their sanctuary cities.

Well, we’ll give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply. And let’s see if they’re so happy. They say, “We have open arms.” They’re always saying they have open arms. Let’s see if they have open arms.

The reflex reaction on the right to this is: ha ha! You stupid people in sanctuary cities! We’re gonna stick you with these problem illegals! Let’s see how you like it!

I understand that reaction. If you don’t think about it, it’s sort of an automatic reaction for people frustated with the illegal immigration issue to have. You guys think illegals are so great? Here, have some more!

And plenty of those places — not all, but some — are saying: sure, we’ll do that. And the knee-jerk partisan claptrap takes up all the oxygen.

And nobody stops to think.

But here’s the thing.

Do that. Stop, for just one moment, to think. Take one moment to step back and ask yourself: what is the problem with sanctuary cities? I’m serious. Pause, stop reading this, and answer that question. Say the answer to yourself. Whatever you think the answer to that question is, say it out loud. I’ll help in a moment by stating what I think the problem is.

Once you say it out loud, and then realize that the President is suggesting that we send more illegal immigrants to these places, you’ll see why I am so contemptuous of this plan.

For my take on what the problem is with sanctuary cities, I’ll give you the short version and the long version. Here’s the short version:

For the long version, I’m going to quote at length from a post I wrote in the summer of 2015 about the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, California:

The murder of 31-year-old Kate Steinle at Pier 14 in San Francisco could have been prevented. Before the murder, authorities had the confessed killer in custody, and knew he was an illegal alien. ICE had told them. But, thanks to San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy, police knowingly let him go.

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Above: Kate Steinle, whose murder resulted from San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy

Police were required to let the illegal alien go — under San Francisco’s glorious and progressive “sanctuary city” policy:

The man accused of gunning down a 32-year-old Pleasanton woman while she was out strolling San Francisco’s Embarcadero with her father was in a Bay Area jail less than four months ago and should have been turned over to federal immigration officials upon his release, instead of being set free, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

But that’s not the way the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Legal Counsel Freya Horne sees it. In an interview Friday with NBC Bay Area, she said the city and county of San Francisco are sanctuaries for immigrants, and they do not turn over undocumented people – if they don’t have active warrants out for them – simply because immigration officials want them to.

. . . .

San Francisco Police Officer Grace Gatpandan Gatpandan added that San Francisco is a “sanctuary city, so we do not hand over people to ICE.” She also said that the police are “not responsible” for Sanchez once he is booked into county jail, “meaning we do not have control over his release.”

The suspect, Francisco Sanchez, has confessed to the murder.

The policy that caused Sanchez to be released, Ordinance 130764, was passed by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and signed by San Francisco’s mayor in the fall of 2013. Its sponsors were San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos; London Breed, David Campos, David Chiu (now a former supervisor), Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, and Norman Yee. It was signed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Everybody in this story is pointing the finger at someone else, but everyone is complicit. The police complain that they were required to release Sanchez. But ICE notes that, actually, police could simply have notified ICE that they were going to release him: “The federal law enforcement source told CNN the sheriff’s department ‘didn’t even need to hold him. They simply could have notified that they were going to release him and we would have gotten him.'”

Obama and the feds (ICE) are not off the hook here, either.

ICE is pointing its finger at the San Francisco policy and the police, but consider: ICE had this guy first, and released him to a sanctuary city, knowing they would probably let him go. According to CNN, “ICE said it turned Lopez-Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities on March 26 for an outstanding drug warrant.” NBC tells us that this case was “a marijuana case that was about 20 years old.”

So: ICE officials knew Sanchez had been deported 5 times before. They knew that, after his last deportation, he was convicted of illegal re-entry and served several years in federal prison. But, upon his release from federal prison, rather than deport him, they turned him over to San Francisco officials for a 20-year-old marijuana case, knowing that San Francisco has this sanctuary policy. Shockingly, the D.A. declined to pursue the case, leading to his release (rather than being returned to ICE custody).

Federal officials should refuse to turn over illegal aliens to sanctuary cities for state prosecutions, unless the state prosecutions are for crimes of violence, or crimes in which the alien is facing several years in prison. Turning over aliens to sanctuary cities, for potential prosecution for low-level non-violent crimes for which they face little time in custody, is tantamount to releasing them outright. Federal officials have the right to say: “if you want to prosecute this guy, you sign a document saying you will return him to us. Otherwise you don’t get him at all. We will deport him.”

The failure to implement this policy is squarely on Obama. And the refusal to secure the border, allowing this guy to come back again and again and again, is also on Obama and the Democrats.

The problem with sanctuary cities is that criminal illegal aliens in sanctuary cities are more likely to successfully evade the reach of the federal immigration authorities, because the local police refuse to cooperate with ICE. That puts society at risk. The more illegals are sent to sanctuary cities, the more danger is created.

If you think that’s hilarious, because everyone walking around a sanctuary city has it coming, then tell that to the family of the beautiful young girl shown above — and then go take a long walk off a short pier. She was a resident of a sanctuary city, so I guess it was her fault, huh?

If Trump actually carries through with this policy, he will be endangering people, to make a cheap political point. Like a chump sucker, I thought that Donald J. Trump actually cared about this issue — as much of a cretin as he is otherwise. But he doesn’t, really. Donald Trump is willing and indeed very happy to put American citizens at greater risk — as long as they live (or vacation) in cities whose policies he doesn’t like.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Anticipating the Mueller Report

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:40 am

The Mueller report should come out soon. What should we expect? I figured I’d put some of my thoughts on the site, just off the top of my head.

I don’t think the report will put it quite this way, but here’s what I think some of the more salient facts are, that will likely be borne out by the report.

The Russians had a campaign to disrupt the 2016 elections and to help Donald Trump win the election. The Trump campaign was aware of parts of this campaign, for example through Roger Stone. The campaign was approached by Russian operatives and in at least one case took them up on a meeting, with relatives of the President and his Krelim-connected campaign chairman meeting with someone representing the Kremlin. Afterwards, Donald Trump helped draft a statement lying about the nature of the meeting. Kremlin officials greenlighted a possible Trump-related real estate project in Moscow. The president’s lawyer later lied about the extent of these contacts to Congress, almost certainly with Trump’s knowledge and after consulting with lawyers connected to Trump. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign did a major favor for Russia by tipping them off that Trump was willing to go softer on sanctions that are very damaging to the corrupt and kleptocratic Putin regime.

However, no prosecutable case can found of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia on any of these fronts. There is no indication that they helped to hack any computers. The lightening up on sanctions is a policy that Trump likely favored regardless of whether he got help from the Russian government, given that Trump is a huge personal fan of the murderous autocrat Putin, as evidenced by his sycophantic statements at Helsinki and elsewhere. As repellent as those statements are, and as counterproductive to human rights as the lifting of sanctions might be, all of this is more the product of Trump’s admiration for murderers and strongmen than the product of blackmail or (as the Steele dossier alleged) a quid pro quo for the help Russia gave Trump in electing him.

As often happens, allegations that would sink another person will roll off Trump’s back because what would be inexplicable for a normal human being can be explained as the result of the President being highly erratic and morally compromised in general, as well as being a giant asshole.

I doubt Mueller has made any express “referral” of any of this to Congress, but there will likely be some subtle reference to the notion that the fact that no prosecutions were brought should not preclude Congress from evaluating the material in its oversight capacity. It’s hard for me to imagine the absence of any statement like that, given that Mueller so pointedly refused to exonerate Trump on obstruction. Why make a point of that lack of exoneration if the matter is not to be taken up by Congress in some way?

I figured anything I said would be more meaningful if I put my cards on the table before the report comes out. Put your own cards on the table in comments below.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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