Patterico's Pontifications

10/19/2017

More Evidence of Collusion!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:22 pm

The Hill:

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom – which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.

The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

Everything about the Clintons stinks.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Gen. Kelly’s Presser Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 pm

I’m a little tired of this topic, but John Kelly having made his appearance today, I feel honor-bound to do a post about it and hopefully put the matter to bed. Here’s the video:

Kelly says his first recommendation was not to call families. It is good that he told the country this. That provides some crucial context for Trump’s actions, his inaction, and his timing.

I have to say: the bit in which Kelly professes to be “stunned” that a Congresswoman “listened in” on the call left me cold. Allahpundit has already explained why, saving me the effort:

When he accuses Wilson of listening in on the call, he makes it sound like she was surreptitiously eavesdropping on another receiver. Wilson was in a limo with Johnson’s family when the call came. The call was put on speakerphone, presumably at Mrs. Johnson’s request so that everyone else there could hear it too. The family wanted Wilson to hear it, apparently. She wasn’t just Johnson’s congresswoman either. He had graduated from her “Role Models of Excellence” program so she knew him and his family. She wasn’t with them in the limo in hopes that Trump might happen to call at that moment and she might score a political point.

So all this “I was stunned and brokenhearted…it stuns me, absolutely stuns me” stuff just leaves me utterly unmoved. This is who the family had with them at the time. Gen. Kelly has moral authority regarding his own son’s death, but he has no real moral authority to dictate whom the family happens to have present when a call like that is made. That’s their choice, not his — and anyway, there is zero indication that they knew the call was coming and arranged for the Congresswoman to be there for that purpose. She was there because she has a relationship with the family. So all this “stunned stunned stunned” stuff strikes me as political BS. The stuff about women and religion being sacred, but not sacred any more, also struck me coming from the Chief of Staff for Donald “I don’t ask for forgiveness” “grab them by the pussy” Trump. A little less sanctimony from a guy in that particular position would be more convincing.

Kelly was smart to focus on the unlikable Congresswoman with the funny hats. I thought Kelly made a pretty good case that she has a history of acting the fool. His story about the evil James Comey making a nice speech followed by cowboy hat woman boasting about political stuff makes her sound like the clown that she indeed appears to be. In that sense, she is the mirror image of Trump: a fool from a different political perspective.

Anyway, focusing on the Congresswoman was politically deft, as it helped obscure the fact that Kelly was implicitly taking a slap at the family for having the Congresswoman there, as well as at the Congresswoman for being there. He is also disagreeing with the family, not just the Congresswoman, about Trump’s tone, as Allahpundit notes:

Most significantly, it wasn’t just Wilson who objected to Trump’s tone during the phone call. It was Johnson’s own mother, who told WaPo that Wilson’s account of the call was accurate and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.” Kelly’s account of the call doesn’t even square with Trump’s. Trump, remember, claimed Wilson “totally fabricated” what he supposedly said to Mrs. Johnson. Kelly, on the other hand, essentially says that Wilson’s account was accurate. She’s not guilty of fabrication but of putting an unfairly negative spin on a comment Trump made about the risks of military service.

Indeed. Let’s talk a little about the substance of the call, as related by Kelly. Here is my transcript of what he said:

That’s he’s a brave man. A fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into, because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist. He enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with, when his life was taken.

The Congresswoman’s claim was that Trump said “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” The controversial part of that was “he knew what he signed up for.” Trump said “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all.” And Kelly said that Trump had said: “He knew what he was getting himself into.” The words sounded nice and reasonable coming out of Kelly’s mouth — question whether they sounded as nice coming out the oaf Trump’s mouth — but those were the words. It wasn’t a fabrication. It was a difference of perspective.

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Sgt. Johnson’s mom said. As someone reminded me recently, President Bush would sometimes get an earful from distraught moms or other relatives. It happens. It could be that Trump was trying his best and ran into people who didn’t want to hear it. It could be that he garbled the message or got defensive. Or it could be a little of both. I will note this aspect of the Congresswoman’s account was not addressed by Gen. Kelly:

“When she got off the phone, she said, ‘He didn’t even know his name. He kept calling him, ‘Your guy,’” Ms. Wilson said of Ms. Johnson. “He was calling the fallen soldier, ‘Your guy.’ And he never said his name because he did not know his name. So he kept saying, ‘Your guy. Your guy. Your guy.’ And that was devastating to her.”

My, but that does sound . . . Trumpy. It sounds, in fact, similar to Trump’s inability to speak the widow’s name (Myeshia Johnson) when he falsely accused the Congresswoman of fabricating her accusations out of whole cloth.

I note that there were no questions about whether the general was offended at Trump’s citing the death of Gen. Kelly’s son to make a cheap political point. When I heard that, I was stunned. Stunned. Stunned. Stunned. I wonder if Gen. Kelly was stunned stunned stunned, but nobody asked him.

Anyway, as a political observer I’d say Kelly did Trump a favor today. Kelly showed a seriousness and gravity of which Trump is incapable. It’s nice to know that Trump has surrounded himself with a fella who seems mostly smart and capable and who demonstrates real leadership. That was the first time I have seen Kelly speak, and I was mostly impressed.

And stunned.

Now let us hopefully never speak of this again.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Another World Leader Seeks to Solidify His Cult of Personality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

The major countries of the world increasingly seem to gravitate towards cults of personality. Some leaders’ cults are more successful than others, of course. Vladimir Putin enjoys an approval rating of greater than 80% — aided by the fact that if you vociferously disapprove of him in public, you may go to jail or worse. Donald Trump, hampered by the annoying free-speech features of our republic, must slog on through with a decidedly less impressive 38% approval rating, forcing him to depend on a hardcore set of rabid partisans to carry the torch.

China’s Xi Jinping is more authoritarian and more successful. Judging from the results of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress so far, Xi is well on his way to becoming the next Chairman Mao. The Guardian reports:

China’s communist leader, Xi Jinping, looks to have further strengthened his rule over the world’s second largest economy with the apparent confirmation that a new body of political theory bearing his name will be written into the party’s constitution.

On day two of a week-long political summit in Beijing marking the end of Xi’s first term, state media announced the creation of what it called Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

“The Thought is … a historic contribution to the party’s development,” Zhang Dejiang, one of the seven members of China’s top ruling council, the politburo standing committee, told delegates at the 19th party congress, according to Beijing’s official news agency, Xinhua.

Liu Yunshan, another standing committee member, said the elevation of Xi’s Thought into the party’s list of “guiding principles” was of “great political, theoretical and practical significance”. “All members of the party should study hard Xi’s ‘new era’ thought,” he was quoted as saying.

Xi has made it quite clear that, despite the expansion of free market activity in China, there will be no concomitant expansion of political freedom. Xi has consolidated power by jailing his political opponents under the guise of an anti-corruption campaign. Now, with this Maoist establishment of a school of thought in his name, Xi will effectively be an emperor.

In unrelated news, Xi and Trump are reported to get along well.

I recently read Red Scarf Girl, a book recommended to me by Mark Hemingway. The book is Ji-li Jiang’s memoir of experiencing Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a young girl of 12. The book is incredible for its description of the wave of utter insanity that washed over China in those years. The country had already experienced the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s Orwellian name for the economic program that killed over 50 million people. But of course nobody talked about that — and while the threat of going to jail and being tortured loomed over everyone’s heads, one should not minimize the genuine love that many people seemed to feel for Mao. You either loved him or pretended to love him, and Mao didn’t much care which. Even if you loved him, a neighbor who didn’t like you might make up a story about you — and if that happened, you were done. You would be made to confess thoughtcrimes you had not committed. You would be tortured until you fabricated stories about the guilt of friends and neighbors who had never helped you do anything.

I highly recommend the book. After I read it, my daughter chose it as a book to read and report on for school. Children need to learn about such cults as they begin to form their opinions about the world.

Cults of personality are real things, and you don’t just read about them in history books. They are going on in the world right now, as we speak. If I seem to worry about even a hint that one could be developing here, it is only because I have read Red Scarf Girl, or Bukovsky, or Solzhenitsyn.

Xi rules over a population of 1.4 billion people. That’s over four times the population of the United States. Information is tightly controlled. By contrast, some of the things we rail about here in the U.S. — a biased news media, leftist protests, and the like — are imperfect signs of the strength of our republic. As bad as our #FAKENEWS!! media often can be, Chinese dissidents can only dream of having a media as free and independent as ours. As annoying as it can be to see people “take a knee” to convey disrespect for our country, in China conveying that same disrespect will get you tossed in jail.

Public opinion polls show that a plurality of Republicans would give the federal government the power to shut down news organizations that the government determines are fabricating stories. One of our states is poised to elect a man to the U.S. Senate who believes it is illegal for football players to kneel during the national anthem.

This is insanity. It is not Cultural Revolution level insanity. But it’s inching along that path.

If you love liberty, now is the time to let your voice be heard. Don’t be a cultist. Join the group that believes in freedom.

We have cookies.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

10/18/2017

Confirmed: Trump Didn’t Send that $25,000 Check Until the Story Broke

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:14 pm

The necessary background for this is in Andrea Ruth’s post from yesterday evening. Trump had phoned the dad of fallen soldier Sgt. Dillon Baldbridge, and the dad said that his ex was getting the Pentagon’s $100k death benefit, while dad was nearly broke. In a seemingly magnanimous gesture, Trump promised to pay the dad $25,000 of his own personal funds. Dad later opened the mail and saw a card of condolence from Trump — but no check. Trump’s spokeshole was asked about this and she said the check was, um, in the mail. Also: HOW DARE THE MEDIA POLITICIZE THIS DAMMIT?!?!?!

So when was it actually sent? You guessed it: yesterday. The same day it hit the news:

President Donald Trump sent a $25,000 personal check to the family of a fallen soldier the same day that The Washington Post reported that he had promised the soldier’s father a personal donation during a June condolence call but never followed through.

A White House official confirms to CNN that the President sent a personal check Wednesday to the family of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge Wednesday. Baldridge, 22, was killed in June by an Afghan police officer.

Had the Washington Post not reported it, he was never going to send that man a dime. Not one thin dime.

This would be shockingly tawdry behavior, if we hadn’t seen it before. Remember when Trump ran like a baby from confronting Megyn Kelly in the debate just before Iowa? He used a fundraiser for vets as his fig leaf, and promised a cool million to veterans’ charities. Trouble was, he never had any intention of actually paying. The checks were sent only after David Farenthold of the #FAKENEWSBEZOSPOST shamed Trump into it.

Donald Trump has the morals of an out-of-control three-year-old. I’d say he should be ashamed, but he lacks the capacity for it. The people who should really be ashamed are the people who defend him when stories like this break. But they obviously lack the capacity for shame too.

If you’re unwilling to condemn this as bad behavior, don’t ever talk to me about the behavior of any other politician from any party ever again. Criticize their policies all you like. But you have forfeited any right to be taken seriously on the issue of character, if you can’t stand up and say: “Wow. What a s**tbag this guy Trump is, with this particular move.”

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Trump Denies Democrat Congresswoman’s Account of Call to Widow

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:45 am

I updated my previous post on this, but it probably deserves its own post. The background, from the #FAKENEWSJEFFBEZOSPOST, is here:

In his call with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, Trump told her, “He knew what was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway,” according to the account of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called and heard the conversation on speakerphone.

Wilson recalled in an interview with The Washington Post that Johnson broke down in tears. “He made her cry,” Wilson said. The congresswoman said she wanted to take the phone and “curse him out,” but that the Army sergeant holding the phone would not let her speak to the president.

The White House neither confirmed nor denied Wilson’s account. “The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a White House official said in a statement.

Or are they? This morning, Trump has tweeted that the Democrat Congresswoman lied and that he has proof:

We’ll see. Somehow, I doubt we’re going to get the proof. Trump also implied he had a tape that would prove James Comey lied about what was said in a private meeting. I have yet to hear that tape.

In any event, I don’t think anybody wants to hear a tape of a conversation between Trump and the widow. I certainly don’t. It’s one of the darker moments of this lady’s life under any circumstances, no matter what was said, and no recording of it should be splashed across the news. If the Congresswoman, an apparent friend of the family, lied about the conversation, Trump could quietly provide the tape to journalists, who could get the accurate quote on the record. Tweeting that he has proof is not necessary — just like invoking the death of John Kelly’s son was not necessary.

I worry that this all ends up putting the widow in the crosshairs. Trump’s army of deplorables would not hesitate to send her death threats if she said something uncomplimentary about Dear Leader, you know.

There’s really no way this ends well. Which is usually the case when President Donald J. Trump is involved.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

10/17/2017

David Harsanyi on Checks and Balances and Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

David Harsanyi has a nice post at The Federalist about the way that Donald Trump has tended to limit executive power:

Say what you will about Donald Trump — and there’s plenty to say — he may be the first president in memory to actively limit his own branch’s power. Though far from perfect, on immigration, on funding issues, on international agreements, and on the regulatory state, the Trump administration has relinquished executive power.

So while civility, competence, and rhetoric matter, and none of those issues should be ignored, neither should the administration’s numerous actions that have helped reestablish some appropriate checks and balances.

Harsanyi cites the announced phase-out of the illegal DACA executive order, the announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord (a treaty-like document never ratified by the Senate), and the abolition of illegal cost-sharing reduction payments (read: subsidies) to health care insurers. In each case, Trump rolled back an illegal action by Obama.

It’s not all champagne and roses. Harsanyi does not mention the Syria missile strike — widely praised by many hawks, but in my view still an act of war without Congressional authorization. Trump’s initial executive order on immigration was a clear overreach born of sloppiness, targeting legal immigrants already in the U.S. as well as others. And I have no illusions that Trump is philosophically interested in limiting the power of the executive branch, as opposed to simply undoing whatever Barack Obama did. Harsanyi’s link to “and there’s plenty to say” slams Trump for threatening NBC in a way no President has a legitimate power to do. I’m sure there are other examples of overreach.

Still, there are positive signs cited by Harsanyi. I’m not going to get too carried away, but they are worth noting. Credit where credit is due. Hey, even a repulsive jackass can guard the sheep.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Trump’s Monstrous Insensitivity to the Families of Fallen Soldiers: Two Related Anecdotes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 pm

Susan Wright mentioned earlier that U.S. President Donald J. Trump made some phone calls today to the families of military personnel killed in Niger on October 4. Trump made the calls after facing questioning about what was taking so long. Here’s how one of those calls went:

U.S. President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Tuesday that “he knew what he signed up for …but when it happens it hurts anyway,” when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

“Yes, he said it,” Wilson said. “It’s so insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn’t have said it.”

In related news, Trump today invoked the death of the son of his Chief of Staff John Kelly today to make a cheap political point:

“As far as other presidents, I don’t know, you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama? I don’t know what Obama’s policy was,” Trump said.

The Washington Post tonight reports on just how much Kelly doesn’t like his son’s death being used for political purposes:

For the past seven years, Gen. John F. Kelly has gone out of his way to keep the death of his son free from politics.

He did not talk about him when — just four days after his death in southern Afghanistan — Kelly found himself commemorating two other Marines killed in combat, in a moving speech in St. Louis. In fact, he specifically asked the officer introducing him not to mention his boy, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, who was killed instantly when he stepped on a land mine while on patrol in 2010, according to a Washington Post report.

. . . .

Kelly has been private about his son’s death, even though both his and his sons’ military service clearly inform his thinking on White House foreign policy and national security decisions, which to him are not merely intellectual exercises, several White House officials said.

Kelly has previously resisted White House efforts to link children’s deaths with politics and policy.

Is Kelly upset? You be the judge:

Since joining Trump’s West Wing team, Kelly is almost always at the president’s side for public appearances. But he was notably absent Tuesday from a Rose Garden news conference with Trump and the Greek prime minister.

The White House offered no explanation of why Kelly was not in attendance.

I’d like to think he told the President that if he ever uses the memory of his son to make a cheap political point again, he’ll be looking for a new Chief of Staff.

Then again, maybe Donald Trump replied by telling Kelly: “You knew what you signed up for.”

UPDATE: Trump tweets that the Democrat Congresswoman lied and that he has proof:

Trump also implied he had a tape that would prove James Comey lied about what was said in a private meeting. I have yet to hear that tape. So: we’ll see about this proof.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Hospital Delays Toddler’s Surgery After Dad’s Arrest

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:57 am

[guest post by Dana]

Making a toddler pay for the sins of his father just isn’t right.

AJ Burgess is a 2-year old toddler in need of a kidney transplant. Testing revealed that not only is his father, Anthony Dickerson, a perfect match, he is, in fact, “a 110 percent match”. However, the necessary surgery is being delayed because Emory University Hospital is requiring a waiting period to see if Dickerson complies with the conditions of his parole:

Burgess, who only weighs 25 pounds at age 2, spent 10 months in a neonatal intensive care unit. Dickerson was tested and proved to be the perfect match to give his son a kidney, WGCL-TV writes.

“He made it his business to say, ‘Once I get out, I’m gonna promise to my son that he can get a kidney,” A.J.’s mother Carmella said.

As soon as Dickerson was released from prison, he was about to go through the steps to donate his kidney on Oct. 3. However, he returned to jail for violating his parole again for possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies, according to WGCL-TV.

According to AJ’s mother, Carmella, the hospital informed her that it would be another 3 or 4 months before AJ’s father, who has a history with the criminal justice system, could donate the needed kidney:

“The lady said we need your parole information and your probation info. He said ‘why?’ We need you to be on good behavior for three to four months before you can give your son the kidney. And January 2018 we will think about re-evaluating you basically,” Carmella said.

It’s puzzling because it appears that the parole violation wasn’t an issue at first:

That didn’t initially seem to be an obstacle. A letter to the Gwinnett County jail from Emory’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program requested his temporary release.

“If Mr. Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, September 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery,” the Sept. 28 letter says.

But then Burgess received a letter from the hospital saying the surgery would be delayed until Dickerson can provide documentation from his parole officer showing compliance for the next three months.

“We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of this completed documentation,” the letter said.

Here is the statement released by Emory Healthcare after being questioned about the situation:

“Emory Healthcare is committed to the highest quality of care for its patients. Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors”, the statement read. “Because of privacy regulations and respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot share specific information about patients.”

The family fears that AJ will not be able to wait the three of four months given his declining health. According to Carmella,”A.J.’s body is failing and he needs bladder surgery”. The family has set up a petition page in hopes of urging the hospital to proceed with the surgery before January 2018:

My 2-yr-old son’s dad, Anthony, was cleared at Emory University Hospital as a 110% match for giving our son his left kidney.

But Anthony went to jail last month for violating his parole, & now he is being denied the chance of giving Anthony Jr. his kidney.

We feel that the hospital is only focused on dad’s behavior & not focusing on The More Important Part…which is our son getting his father’s kidney so he can begin to live a healthy life. Dad making a mistake shouldn’t affect his ability to help his son.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Russia Collusion Proved!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

The Hill:

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

We’ve all heard about the corrupt Uranium One deal. This story talks about a second decision that has received less attention: “approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp.” The story has too little detail for my taste about the specifics of millions being routed to the Clinton Foundation. Is this a reference to payments we already knew about, or new revelations? I’ve read the story a couple of times and it’s still not clear to me.

Still, the fact that someone connected to these payments was involved in bribery seems like a big deal. This information clearly would have jeopardized the Russian nuclear expansion deals — not to mention Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. The fact that we are just learning this now is pathetic.

The exclamation point in the headline is irony, of course. No “collusion” between Hillary and the Russian government has been proved. But it stinks. It stinks to high heaven. At a minimum, the story illustrates the corrosive effect of foreign money being routed to entities connected to a political official. (Unless that official is Donald Trump, of course. In that case it’s OK and everybody will defend it or ignore it.)

I hope the story prompts an independent investigation. More likely, however, partisans like Hannity will scream about it and oversell the story, while Big Media will yawn and fail to follow up. And it will become a partisan football, just like everything else in this overly politicized nation.

Yay!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

10/16/2017

Tonight’s Grammar Question

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:50 pm

[guest post by JVW]

To be precise, shouldn’t it be “I too”?

– JVW

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